“Americans’ latest assessment of their mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades,” Gallup reports.
As Jon Miltimore previously explained for FEE.org, the Centers for Disease Control found that 1 in 4 young Americans considered suicide this past summer amid life under lockdown and unprecedented levels of social isolation. In one anecdote that painfully demonstrates this broader trend, a California hospital doctor told local news in May that during lockdown he witnessed “a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”
Consider this report from the New York Times:
A wave of new research suggests social separation is bad for us. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.
Another analysis that pooled data from 70 studies and 3.4 million people found that socially isolated individuals had a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, and that this effect was largest in middle age.
Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions. These effects start early: Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking.