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Britain in grip of loneliness epidemic

Posted by Sara | Opinion | Monday 31 May 2010 2:12 am
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Britain in grip of loneliness epidemicMore and more people are moving to the Internet for communicating with friends and family as technology and modern life pressures are creating an epidemic of loneliness.

A report by the Mental Health Foundation suggested that more than one in ten Britons feel lonely on almost a frequent basis.

From Timesonline.co.uk:

The report says it is too early to say whether technology is changing our core ability to relate to others, but [it is] “soon enough to conclude that technology is no substitute for the human interaction that it is a buffer against loneliness.”

“It has been argued that the 50 minutes a day most Britons spend on the virtual world detracts from the time we invest in real-life social encounters,” the report says. “New technology can be used to reduce social isolation … But technology doesn’t include the physical contact that benefits our well-being.”

The percentage of households occupied by one person has doubled from 6 per cent in 1972 to 12 per cent in 2008, the Foundation notes, while the rising divorce rate also means the number of single-parent families is rising.

While loneliness is an emotion felt by most people at some point in their lives, persistent or chronic isolation can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and mental health problems, such as depression, eating disorders or alcohol and drug abuse.

“Once loneliness becomes chronic, it is difficult to treat,” the report adds. “People who are chronically lonely can get stuck in a loop of negative behaviour, and might push others away or seek transient contact, such as multiple sexual partners, which can make them even more isolated.”

It was suggested by the survey findings that while loneliness affects people of all ages yet women were more likely to be affected than men with isolation.

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