A team of researchers from Brigham Young University conducted a meta analysis of almost 150 studies which looked at survival odds and social networks.
From the results they calculated that having very few friends is actually as damaging to survival as smoking 15 cigarettes per day or being a heavy drinker.
Julianne Holt-Lundstad led the study and has said she believes that the results are related to the fact that caring for others makes us better care for ourselves.
“When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks.” She said.
The study looked at over 300,000 people from four continents over a period of seven years. It was those who had a strong network of friends that fared best in terms of lifespan and were found to be almost twice as likely to be alive at any given age than those who were lonely.
Participants of the study included those of all ages and background, but the findings remained the same and regardless of initial health status.
If you are suffering from loneliness then try to find out about activities going on in your local area which you can get involved in. Good places to try would be local websites, doctors surgery’s, local shops, library’s and the citizens advice bureau for leaflets and information and if you have a community centre and or a church near by these are also great starting points.
If you feel like you may be suffering from a more serious condition such as depression it is important you visit your GP who will able to give you the appropriate help and support.