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Loneliness Is Contagious

Like a Cold, Loneliness Can Spread

Over the weekend, I managed to catch myself a doozy of a cold. I've got a sore throat, aches and pains, and I'm suffering from overall fatigue. But after hearing the news that loneliness is contagious, I'd take these symptoms over the sadness that can come from feeling alone.

A study followed 5,214 individuals and found that when people feel lonely they can transfer their feelings of "isolation and despair" to those around them, whether it be friends, neighbors, co-workers, or even acquaintances. In the same way being around positive and happy people can lift our spirits, those who are lonely can bring us down to their own level if they are displaying feelings of negativity. From there it can spread up to three degrees of separation — suddenly, one person's sadness becomes that of a friend's, a friend's friend, and that person's boss.

There are a few more details to share on the matter so do keep reading.

Not surprisingly, loneliness occurs mainly among people with fewer social ties. What's interesting though is that it becomes more compounded for the lonely individuals because people have a tendency to push away individuals who display negative feelings. Because of this, lonely people stay on the edge of social circles where isolation can be more profound.


One way to combat loneliness is to stay connected by forging personal relationships at work and in your community. If you feel like someone in your life might be going through feelings of isolation find ways to reach out to them. Research from last year found that loneliness is detrimental not just to one's emotional health but to overall health as well.

On average, the individuals in the study felt lonely 48 times per year — how do you deal with these feelings when they arise? Do the holidays trigger a sense of loneliness in you?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 7 years
Interesting. I find myself feeling lonely sometimes because my family lives far away from me. I try to stay in touch by calling my friends and family when I feel lonely and by hanging out with my neighbor (who is older and lives alone).
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