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Breaking The Stigma: Overcoming Loneliness

Breaking The Stigma: Overcoming Loneliness
Breaking The Stigma: Overcoming Loneliness 22:59

Many people want to understand how to overcome loneliness. 

Breaking The Stigma: Overcoming Loneliness is CBS New York's in-depth look at what the U.S. Surgeon General calls "the epidemic of loneliness." 

Loneliness can impact just about anyone of any age and any circumstance. You can feel lonely with friends or family, at your job, or in a crowd. 

Health impacts of loneliness

Experts say oftentimes this is something that can pass in a relatively short amount of time - a few days or weeks. But extended periods of feeling lonely can have some serious impacts on physical health, reportedly causing a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety and premature death. The impact is similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to the Surgeon General's office. 

In terms of mental health, people who experience prolonged loneliness are at increased risk for depression.

Advice and solutions for loneliness

But there is also hope, and solutions such as recommendations for making social connections a priority, pushing for research funding, and increasing public awareness. Experts also advocate for connections in the community, adding that social connections extend beyond the well-being of individuals' health to quality of life, education, employment and economic outcomes.

In our reporting, we speak to seniors who tell us something as simple as a phone call can alleviate feelings of loneliness. A group of teens share that they sometimes feel isolated partly due to pressures of social media, and also the stress of being a teen, and the strain of academic school performance. They also explain that they look out for themselves and each other, and are giving back to the community as teen ambassadors working with the Hope For Depression Research Foundation.

We also hear other stories of hope from medical professionals who tell us serving others is one way to alleviate the darkness of feeling alone, while others have found redemption in creative outlets and positive relationships.  

Resources for loneliness, and more

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