You know by now we're all about brain health and performance - focusing our efforts and expertise on helping you understand how your brain works and what to feed it from both a nutritional and knowledge point of view, to keep it in great shape.
But, as this Friday is World Mental Health Day, we're going to focus on the mind for a change, and shine a light on one of the key causes of mental health disorders - so we don't shy away from the important stuff.
A study from Trinity College Dublin has found that, rather than being a one-dimensional thing, loneliness can be split into four classes, with two of them having symptoms as serious as a psychiatric disorder.
A singular problem.
There are two types of loneliness, social and emotional. Social loneliness relates to the quantity of people you have relationships with, whereas emotional loneliness is about the quality of those relationships.
Almost 2,000 people aged 21-70 took part in the study, and 17.1% of them were found to be “lonely”. Their results were categorised into four classes based on their responses on both emotional and social scales:
- Low on both emotional and social loneliness scales - 52.8%
- Social Loneliness - 8.2%
- Emotional Loneliness - 26.6%
- Social and Emotional Loneliness - 12.4%
The first two classes were the least psychologically distressed, whereas people in the “emotional” and “social and emotional” classes were suffering symptoms of depression, anxiety and negative psychological wellbeing.
Loneliness can also lead to physical illnesses like asthma and autoimmune diseases, as genes which promote inflammation are more active among lonely people. It’s also a major mortality risk, with loneliness ranking close to obesity and smoking in terms of damage to your health.