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Kendra Cherry

Is Loneliness Contagious?

By December 19, 2012

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Do you ever feel lonely? People often report feeling lonely around the holidays, even in cases when they are surrounded by family and friends. The results of one study suggest that your own feelings may actually make the people around you more lonely as well.

Loneliness

According to the results of the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, loneliness can spread much like the common cold. While a cold or flu bug might be spread through a handshake, loneliness can spread through groups of people via negative social interactions.

Earlier research has shown that loneliness can impact stress, heart health, and immunity. But these are not the only areas in which loneliness takes its toll. "Lonely adults consume more alcohol and get less exercise than those who are not lonely," explained John Cacioppo, co-author of the book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection in an interview with U.S. News and World Report. "Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue. Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of cellular processes deep within the body, predisposing us to premature aging."

Learn more: Study Suggests That Loneliness Spreads in Social Networks

Photo courtesy Rich Legg/iStockPhoto

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