The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has completely altered the way people live. Schools and businesses are closing. People are being asked to stay home and practice social distancing.

Even before COVID-19 made headlines, people didn’t need to leave home for much — not to shop, not even to socialize.

Despite the online conveniences and connectedness, there are a lot of lonely people. One in five Americans say they feel lonely or socially isolated. And it hurts.

Loneliness poses a greater threat to health than obesity. It can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. How?

Research suggests loneliness impairs health by raising levels of stress hormones and triggering an inflammatory response, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and dementia, among other issues. Feeling lonely can also lead to anxiety and depression.

Picture Source: Stock Photo Patch

SOURCE ( Edward-Elmhurst Health, Patch