The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. recently featured a BYU professor who spoke openly about the dangers of loneliness.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at BYU, spoke about how loneliness is a major health crisis affecting the United States today.
She said at points that loneliness can be more damaging than alcohol, the lack of physical activity, obesity and air pollution.
A survey from earlier this year found 72 percent of Americans experience loneliness. One-third of people said they experience it once a week.
“I was actually surprised that so many people felt they were alone. I thought it would be high, but not this high,” said Dr. Jennifer Caudle, an assistant professor of family medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, according to CBS News.
Caudle told CBS that several factors play a role in loneliness, like chronic pain and substance abuse.
It may also be a symptom of depression or a mental health disorder.
“Being connected electronically isn’t the same as in person. There’s something about a person-to-person interaction that’s generally better for our well-being. Maybe it’s intangible,” Caudle told CBS. “But I think being around other people, family or friends, and that reassurance, communication, or something as small as a smile or a touch, these are small things but I think they’re very important.”