The Epidemic of Loneliness!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
                                                    Volume 17, Number 5

This month’s letter is about the epidemic of loneliness. We first discussed this topic in the February 2023 newsletter, and since then, the Surgeon General of the US officially called it an American epidemic. We felt it was necessary to continue the discussion.

Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. In addition to leading to depression, loneliness can cause serious medical problems.

Our May e-Letter is entitled The Epidemic of Loneliness. Dr. Kimmel’s blog is about the Air and Sea Show and can be found here.

We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our e-Letters and for the positive and compassionate comments we have received.


                                               (Photo by Ethan Sykes)

In May, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared loneliness to be an American epidemic.

In his report, titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” Murthy found that even before the pandemic, 50% of American adults felt considerable levels of loneliness.

The physical effects of loneliness could be harmful with a 29% increased risk of heart disease; a 32% increased risk of stroke; and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia. It is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Partially due to the pandemic and the stay-at-home mandates, changes to society’s structures were made. These included working from home and virtual attendance at movies, religious institutions, and schools.

Traditional bonds have weakened including relationships among extended families, the lowering and eventual decrease of academic standings, and respect for longstanding institutions.

It is as if the foundations that give us a sense of security have been shaken and we have yet to return to solid ground.

In addition, the explosion of social media where everyone has a platform to espouse their point of view as well as the polarization of politics has led to feelings of distrust and lack of leadership.

Social media has also led to a false sense of community as people don’t think they are alone when they have hundreds or thousands of friends and followers. They can still feel lonely as it is the quality of the connection to others that matters

The sense of community, while still existent, has become less important to many people. Whether it be due to fear, anger, or a sense of helplessness, many people feel disconnected and alone even when around others.

Loneliness and solitude are not the same. Solitude, which can have very positive effects on people, can improve concentration, productivity, relaxation, and creativity. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is lonely.

                                               (Photo by Anthony Tran)

Loneliness is a state of mind that is often brought on by a loss of close/loved ones, divorce, breakups, job loss, move to new communities, or contagion from other lonely people.

A person can be surrounded by other people yet still feel lonely. Individuals/influencers, performers, or other celebrities can have thousands of followers but still feel lonely.

Numerous studies have called attention to the mental and physical dangers of loneliness. Isolated adults have a greater chance of developing dementia since social connections matter for our mental health.

Being disconnected and lonely adds to more stress, inflammation, and more anxiety. In addition, lonely people often feel that no one cares for or about them. This can lead to depression and even suicide in the most extreme cases.

Dr. Murthy believes that “millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows.”

One of the best ways to overcome loneliness is to get a pet. The presence of animal companions can reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. It can easily allow a connection to another living entity that can provide affection, love, and support. A bonus is the opportunity to meet other pet owners.

Therapy also helps to reverse negative thoughts, provide support for new behaviors, and develop ways of connecting with other people. Group therapy can be extremely helpful in understanding others and developing connections with others.

Loneliness can be overcome by changing that mindset. We offer the following information:


Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been…
Lives in a dream…
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door…
Who is it for?
All the lonely people…Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people…Where do they all belong?… Paul McCartney/Beatles


  • Loneliness is a state of mind where people feel isolated, unwanted, empty, unimportant, anxious, and/or depressed
  • Loneliness can occur even when with or surrounded by people
  • A study by Morning Consult, commissioned by Cigna, found that 58% of U.S. adults can be considered lonely
  • Even though they may be married, 60% of people feel lonely in their marriage
  • Loneliness is subjective: even though people may have friends, they can still feel disconnected from them
  • Being lonely may be temporary due to environmental factors or chronic due to personality characteristics or a mental disorder
  • Loneliness has also been described as “social pain” since people feel disconnected from others
  • Medically, loneliness is highly correlated with alcoholism, depression, poor sleep, isolation, weight gain, and anxiety
  • Loneliness also increases the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease as social isolation can impair cellular immunity
  • Even people with a large social network of followers can still feel lonely as it is the quality of the connection to others that matters
  • Loneliness is often caused by a relationship break up, move to a new location, self-isolation, divorce, grief, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and depression
  • In children, loneliness is linked to antisocial behavior including hostility, delinquency, and violent acting-out
  • Emotional support animals such as cats, dogs, and horses can be very effective in decreasing loneliness and depression
  • Research has shown that decreasing social media use can lead to a decrease in loneliness and an improvement in well-being; in-person interactions are better

  • Understand the importance of social connection with others
  • Recognize when you are lonely; be active to feel better
  • Understand that loneliness can affect you physically as well as emotionally
  • Push yourself to talk to others; connecting with them can cause good feelings
  • Interact with people in person rather than online; this will boost endorphins
  • Push yourself to talk regularly with neighbors and co-workers
  • Volunteer for community service to meet other people with similar interests
  • Join a book club, card game, team sport, travel group, or religious organization
  • Attend discussions or lectures, work out at a gym, volunteer at a school
  • Focus on positive thoughts and attitudes and be upbeat around others
  • Seek professional help if you cannot overcome your feelings of loneliness, depression, pessimism, and social anxiety
    Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at [email protected]
                    Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
                    5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
                    Coral Springs FL 33067

    As always, we are interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this e-Letter, email your comments to [email protected] and we will publish them next month.

    Till June 2023…

    The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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    Copyright © 2023 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.