Loneliness is not about how many friends we have. Nor is it about how much time we spend by ourselves. Loneliness is not something that happens to people when they reach a certain age. Both older and younger people can feel lonely.
Loneliness is the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the meaningful social connections we want and those we have. Loneliness can affect anyone.
Research carried out in 2022 by the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland found that:
Another UK study carried out in 2018 found that young people aged 16-24 were more likely than any other age group to feel lonely.
Isolation and loneliness are particularly common experiences among carers. Information published by Carers UK in 2021 indicates that carers are seven times more likely than the general population to say they are always or often lonely.
Just as anyone can experience loneliness, so too, loneliness affects everyone differently. It can have an impact, not only on our mental health (resulting in increased feelings of anxiety and depression), but it can also affect our physical health. Age Scotland says that loneliness is as dangerous to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it doubles the risk of dementia.
The British Red Cross describes some of the symptoms of loneliness as feeling:
Connecting with others
Consider support and services
If you prefer to manage alone
If you feel you have no one to talk to, try a free helpline: