Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Loneliness Can Speed Aging

Unhealthy Effects of Loneliness May Multiply With Time WebMD 8/20/07 "...unhealthy effects of loneliness accumulate with time and may contribute to the wear and tear of stress and aging on your body...although lonely people reported the same number of major life events as others, they were more likely to report more chronic stressors and unhappy childhood events...in the older group, lonely adults had higher blood pressure readings than older adults who were not lonely. This wasn't seen with the college group. In addition, urine samples showed that the older group of lonely people had significantly higher levels of the stress hormone epinephrine...This hormone is involved in the “fight or flight” response in the body, and researchers say elevated epinephrine levels suggest that lonely people live in a heightened sense of arousal, which could have long-term effects on heart disease and other health problems...results showed that not only did lonely people perceive their past in a more negative light, but they were also more likely to feel helpless and threatened in their current situations and, ironically, less likely to seek help when they were stressed out...monitored the sleep of the younger lonely participants and found that although they appeared to be getting as much sleep as normal volunteers, their sleep was disturbed throughout the night. Therefore, they suffered from poor-quality sleep and were more likely to have problems during the day as a result.
Researchers say the unhealthy effects of lack of sleep and heightened stress may accentuate the wear and tear of aging on the body and raise the risk of health problems associated with aging among older lonely people."

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