Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

Loneliness Is an Epidemic. Love Is the Closest Thing We Have to a Cure.

Photo credit: Pinterest

You don’t need anyone to tell you that loneliness sucks. But did you know that it’s an all-but-out-of-control epidemic in the modern world, and that lives are shortened because of it? That’s the lamentable truth. But happily, as Dr. Jill Carnahan relates, the remedy is accessible to nearly everyone.

We hear a lot about some causes of death: cigarettes, guns, heart disease, fentanyl. But in many parts of the world there’s a less visible killer we ignore to our peril. Loneliness is correlated with a 26% increase in the likelihood of premature death in the United States, where one person in twelve is severely affected.

And “affected” means much more than a passing, or even sustained, negative feelings. Evidence of the medical consequences of severe loneliness has accrued study by study, year by year. Immune system dysfunction, chronic inflammation, pain, fatigue, high blood pressure: all these conditions and more have been linked to a life of loneliness.

Dr. Jill Carnahan, a doctor specializing in functional medicine and health education, is quite direct about the dangers of loneliness in this essay on her website. But she lavishes more attention on a straightforward remedy, and one that’s also supported by evidence: namely, love. Or to expand a bit, the immense healing power of an increased commitment to building and sustaining loving relationships, in all aspects and stages of our lives.

Just as loneliness has a clear pathology—often increasing with age, economic precarity, excessive screen time, etc.—building loving relationships has a rather clear methodology as well. Dr. Carnahan shares many reflections on breaking out of the loneliness trap. This quick, uplifting essay is also a serious form of health guidance on a too-often-overlooked topic. Check it out:

Love Heals: The Powerful Effects of Love ( and How To Create More of It)


Related Posts from "Sanctuary"

When Song, Faith, and Joy are Enough

The full name of the song is “Ndikhokhele Bawo,” which means “Lead me, Father” in Xhosa. These South African youths, assembled in their school’s courtyard, transform their place of learning into a concert hall with nothing more than the power of their voices. But it’s their spirit of joy and solidarity that lifts the beautiful into the realm of the sublime.

Learning About Depression. And Fighting Back.

Forty percent of Americans will suffer a major depressive episode at some point in their lives. Five percent of the world’s population is suffering from it at any given time. It’s a disease that’s too often misunderstood—when it’s not overlooked entirely. Recovery writer Annie Highwater offers this primer on the many forms depression can take, and the variety of paths available for dealing with it.

IFS: Embracing and Listening to Our Multiple Selves

“Most of the world’s problems arise from a misunderstanding about parts and burdens,” Dr. Richard Schwartz asserts. In IFS, which he founded, the “parts” are our multiple internal selves, and the burdens are the trauma and wounds they try to manage on our behalf. The simple but radical proposition of IFS is that these multiple selves arise for good reasons and have a lot to offer—if we can help them change with the seasons of our lives.

Dr. Gabor Maté: The Power of Addiction, the Addiction to Power

Across four decades of work on issues of trauma, addiction, childhood development, stress, and illness, Dr. Gabor Maté has become an internationally recognized thinker, author, and public speaker. But his brilliance is only one side of the coin. The other side, evident in all his remarks, is profound compassion. In this TED talk, both qualities are on full display.