Loneliness taxing on the immune system
Loneliness can take an emotional toll on a person, and can lead to depression, anxiety or a variety of other mental health issues. Now research from Ohio State University has found that loneliness may also have an impact on overall health by creating a dysfunctional immune response.
The researchers determined that people who identified themselves as lonely produced more inflammation-related proteins, which signal the presence of inflammation and are associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease, among other conditions. The research also showed that people who were more lonely showed signs of elevated latent herpes virus reactivation, which is often associated with stress, indicating that loneliness may have a similar impact on overall health as stress.
As doctors gain a better understanding of the ways in which a person's mental and physical health are linked, the more potential there is for preventing and treating a wide range of health problems.