Loneliness can make your sicker than smoking does

Posted by Karen Degen on 22nd April 2014

Tags: Dr Lissa Rankin, Mind Over Medicine, cancer, friends, life expectancy, loneliness, relationships, smoking, social anxiety

I’m enjoying reading Mind Over Medicine by Dr Lissa Rankin.  There’s a great chapter about how loneliness affects health.  As it turns out, loneliness can make you sicker than smoking cigarettes and being part of a supportive community can increase your life expectancy.  Multiple studies demonstrate that loneliness leads to suppressed immune function, which can alter the body’s ability to fight infection, mount an attack against cancer cells, and repair the body internally.  The healthiest thing for you right now might be making friends.  Not just any friends though, as the type of relationship is important i.e. those that initiate relaxation responses in us, rather than those that trigger stress responses.  The problem I find with many of my clients though is that they can’t make friends because of social anxiety.  If you know of anyone like that please let them know about me – I can help, and perhaps change more than just their loneliness.