What I Learned This Week

The growing challenge—and opportunity—of loneliness.

In much of the developed world, people are feeling increasingly isolated and alone. We live alone, we work alone, and increasingly, we die alone. Ironically, the technologies that have promised to bring us closer together have only compounded the experience of being isolated—a topic we have discussed at length in these pages. There is a growing consensus among doctors and policymakers that loneliness, not obesity or heart disease, is the leading health crisis in the developed world. Recent research indicates that loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for depression, dementia progression, compromised immune system, hypertension, stroke and cancer. Loneliness is expensive. Medicar…

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