Loneliness has caused serious health risks, as nearly half of adults across the nation say they have experienced the feeling, the U.S. surgeon general said, declaring a public health epidemic.
The risks could be as deadly as smoking a dozen cigarettes a day, the Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday, adding the problem has cost the health industry billions of dollars.
“Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right. That’s why I issued this advisory to pull back the curtain on a struggle that too many people are experiencing,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told the outlet.
In a social media post on Tuesday, Murthy said he released the Surgeon General’s Advisory on loneliness and isolation and emphasized how relationships can help.
“Research shows that loneliness and isolation are associated with a greater risk of heart disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death,” he stated:
“Lacking connection can increase the risk of premature death to levels comparable to smoking daily,” he continued, adding that loneliness and isolation are quite common.
“Now is the time to invest in building social connection,” he noted before highlighting the advisory entitled Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.
The AP report noted the declaration does not have the ability to unlock federal funds or programming to help remedy the problem.
The outlet continued:
Research shows that Americans, who have become less engaged with worship houses, community organizations and even their own family members in recent decades, have steadily reported an increase in feelings of loneliness. The number of single households has also doubled over the last 60 years.
But the crisis deeply worsened when COVID-19 spread, prompting schools and workplaces to shut their doors and sending millions of Americans to isolate at home away from relatives or friends.
In October 2020, CBS Boston reported that 61 percent of young people claimed the pandemic made their feelings of loneliness worse, and “Teens report spending 75 percent of their day on screens during the pandemic.”
Now, the surgeon general is urging people to make changes to connect with others on a relational level through community organizations and additional means.
In December 2021, Murthy issued a public health advisory regarding mental health issues young people were grappling with during the lockdowns and other pandemic protocols, Breitbart News reported.
“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Murthy explained.
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