Loneliness is Associated with Higher Incidence of Mental Illness

According to numerous studies, approximately one-third of the population will experience a mental disorder during their lifetime. Common mental disorders include depression and anxiety. In extreme cases, these disorders can lead to substance abuse or other forms of self-destructive behavior.

A recent study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, examined the relationship between common mental disorders and living alone. In much of the Western world, the number of people living alone is continuing to grow. There are several reasons for this phenomenon. First, divorce rates have grown. Even in the absence of divorce, the aging population makes it common to find elderly people living alone after being widowed.

For the purpose of this study, scientists from the University of Versailles Saints-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France analyzed data from three National Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys conducted in 1993, 2000, and 2007. More than 20,500 adults participated in the studies, completing numerous clinical questionnaires that helped doctors determine whether the participants had experienced any neurotic symptoms during the previous week.

At the time of the first survey in 1993, 8.8% of the population lived alone; by the year 2000 that number had increased to 9.8%; and by 2007 it had increased to 10.7%.

The most immediate and revealing findings of the researchers were:

  • In 1993, 19.9% of those who lived alone suffered from some type of common mental disorder, as opposed to 13.6% of those who did not live alone.
  • In 2000, 23.2% of those who lived alone suffered from some type of common mental disorder, as opposed to 15.5% of those who did not live alone.
  • In 2007, 24.7% of those who lived alone suffered from some type of common mental disorder, as opposed to 15.4% of those who did not live alone.

These numbers also show that the connection between living alone and developing a mental disorder has strengthened over the years.

As the scientists began to delve more deeply into the data available to them, they were able to conclude that a single factor — loneliness — was responsible for 84% of the mental illness attributed to living alone.

Needless to say, not everybody who lives alone is lonely. However, living alone is a major risk factor for loneliness. And loneliness is a major risk factor for developing a common mental disorder.

Especially among the elderly, who may have lost a spouse or the close friends who formed their support group, or who have been divorced for many years without finding a new partner to share their life, loneliness can be difficult to overcome. In such cases, it is important to take steps to battle isolation.

Keeping in touch with and seeing loved ones and friends, especially children and relatives, can add meaning and happiness to one’s life. And for those people living in an assisted living facility, the ability to take part in social activities, even when inertia urges them to stay in their own apartment, can help to stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness. Whether it’s a lecture, a show, an activity, or a meal, being with other people and interacting with them is both important and healthy.

Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center is conveniently located in scenic Lakewood, NJ, close to major medical centers and just minutes from area highways.

At Atlantic Coast, our goal is to offer recreational activities that stimulate both mind and body. We fashion each day’s recreation schedule with the primary purpose of encouraging social interaction and promoting physical health and fitness. To accommodate different interests and personal preferences, our Activities Director designs flexible schedules, with a variety of stimulating and engaging activity options.

Our beautiful nursing home and rehab center is situated on beautifully landscaped grounds, and provides the comfortable and pleasant living experience that is essential to ensuring optimal clinical outcomes. We have strived to create an environment and program that truly enhances quality of life, thus promoting recuperation, health, and well-being.

Our modern facility features spacious living spaces that are impeccably decorated and furnished. Our residents are pampered with the finest amenities, including free WIFI, flat screen cable television and state-of-the-art mechanical beds for individualized comfort.

Our master chef and the entire staff of culinary experts prepare delicious meals to please even the most discerning palates. Our meals are not only delicious, they are also elegantly served, using fine china and utensils. In addition, we have a registered dietician to supervise the process to ensure that all meals conform to the individual dietary restrictions and requirements for every resident.

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