The surgeon general on Tuesday declared widespread loneliness a public health epidemic in the U.S., saying it poses risks as deadly as smoking a dozen cigarettes a day. A report from Dr. Vivek Murthy’s office said that around half of American adults say they’ve experienced loneliness—which can increase the risk of premature death by almost 30 percent. As well as raising the risk of a patient being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and dementia, loneliness can also increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
“Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right,” Murthy told the Associated Press. “That’s why I issued this advisory to pull back the curtain on a struggle that too many people are experiencing.” The declaration is primarily designed to raise awareness around the issue of loneliness, reports of which have steadily increased in the U.S. in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. Read more.