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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Loneliness: Alone Again—And Not Naturally.


Persona alone on a wall overlooking a body of water in front of a mountain range.

When Gilbert O’Sullivan sang these words in a depressing song "Alone Again" about being stood up at the altar, losing his father and mother, and feeling that God had forsaken him, I just wanted to cry for this guy. The year was 2006.


Epidemic of Loneliness


Fast forward and the word ALONE is more than a refrain from a song. Instead, with the research conducted by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Americans face an epidemic of loneliness.

Loneliness is far more than just a feeling and its consequences are severe. Studies show that loneliness can lead to anxiety and depression, heart disease, dementia, and stroke. The prevailing wisdom is that loneliness is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.


Loneliness in the United States


Nearly half of U.S. adults report experiencing loneliness. A 2021 study commissioned by Cigna HealthCare company found that 79% of people ages 18-24 reported feeling lonely. Certainly, COVID exacerbated the problem but loneliness among young adults has been increasing every year since 1976.


But it’s not just this younger cohort. People are spending less time with friends and not participating in organizations or clubs—due in no small part to the way technology has moved people away from in-person contact.


We Need Each Other


We need each other because we are social animals, relying on each other for survival. But this disconnection is harming our ability to feel supported. And it can destroy trust—at the very time we need to come together.


I really resonate with what Surgeon General Murthy published three months ago in the New York Times:


“Addressing the crisis of loneliness and isolation is one of our generation’s greatest challenges. By building more connected lives and more connected communities, we can strengthen the foundation of our individual and collective well-being and we can be better poised to respond to the threats we are facing as a nation.”

Connection is the foundation for resilience. What will it take for you, for me, to reach out to others? That’s my current goal.

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