Why does the night cause loneliness
Tormenting loneliness - does loneliness make you sick?
Current studies warn that every tenth German is lonely, and in old age 85 and over it is even one in five.
The psychologist Professor Maike Luhmann from the University of Bochum has carried out one of the few major studies on loneliness in Germany. The media interest in it grew abruptly when a State Secretary in Great Britain was appointed "Loneliness Minister" at the beginning of 2018.
From BILD to FAZ, from 3Sat to ZDF - everyone reported on loneliness in Germany. An interview marathon for Maike Luhmann. She published her study in 2016. In it she evaluated statements from 16,000 representatively selected Germans from the socio-economic panel.
Talking about loneliness
Because people don't like to admit frankly that they suffer from loneliness, scientists avoid the word. They prefer to ask: "How often do you feel that you are missing someone else?" "How often do you feel abandoned?" And: "How often do you feel isolated from others?"
Is loneliness an illness? This thesis comes from the Ulm brain researcher Prof. Manfred Spitzer. He gave his book, published in spring, the dramatic title "Loneliness - the unrecognized disease: painful, contagious, fatal". Spitzer calmly counters the accusation that he is exaggerating when he declares loneliness a disease that has spread like an epidemic. He just likes to provoke and the book should be sold. But the few studies on loneliness do not show this connection.
Chronically lonely people die earlier
However, the studies show that chronically lonely people die earlier on average. It is also well documented that lonely people are at higher risk of mental and physical illness. And that neither those affected nor society take these consequences of loneliness seriously.
How is loneliness related to anxiety and depression?
The Mainz psychologist Ana Tibubos has evaluated data from the Gutenberg health study on the relationship between depression, anxiety and loneliness. For the study, 15,000 people from the Rhine-Main region are regularly interviewed and medically examined. The lonely among them had a significantly increased tendency towards anxiety disorders and suicidal ideation. More than half of those who experience extreme loneliness also suffer from depression.
Not all lonely people are depressed
Is that why the thesis that lonely people are simply depressed is correct? The Mainz researcher contradicts: Not all lonely people are depressed. To what extent loneliness causes depression or depression leads to loneliness, the Mainz researchers around Dr. Tibubos still to find out.
In the middle of life, a particularly large number of people suffer from loneliness
Not only old and very old people are at risk. Loneliness is not a question of age. There is a second age group that is particularly stressed according to the loneliness studies: the mid-thirties.
The Bochum psychology professor Maike Luhmann names her thesis why men and especially women at this age increasingly report a feeling of loneliness: This age phase is often called the rush hour of life and this is to express that it is a phase in which an incredible number of things should happen.
The philosopher Dr. Christoph Quarch considers social and cultural imprinting to be decisive for which ideal people are eager to pursue, what they compare themselves with, and when they consider their own status to have failed. And suffer from it. The collective cultivates lone warfare, economic success and perfect looks. A wrong way, Quarch criticizes.
Where do i belong Who belongs to me
Anyone who has found a satisfactory answer to these questions can even endure being alone for a while. And even appreciates the chosen retreat into silence, in order to finally be able to open up again for real interpersonal encounters, for listening, for community.
But people who get into social isolation due to poverty, old age, illness or caring for a loved one need support. Because the health risks that loneliness can bring with it are too great. Here it is up to politicians to provide relief.
Manuscript for the broadcast
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