Loneliness and depression aren’t just issues of public health, they’re also costing the global economy around $1 trillion each year, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently said to Fortune magazine.
The shocking economic impact figure was calculated based on lost productivity as a result of the two most common mental disorders, anxiety and depression, according to The Lancet Global Health journal.
The journal projected that loss would rise to $6 trillion by 2030.
Earlier this year Murthy declared loneliness and isolation as the nation’s latest epidemic, and compared the effects of loneliness to that of smoking.
"Loneliness is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death. The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity," he said in a report released by his office.
The report cited multiple studies in stating that the odds of developing depression in adults is more than double among people who report feeling lonely often, compared to those who rarely or never feel lonely.
A recent survey from Meta-Gallup found nearly 1 in 4 adults across the globe feel “very or fairly” lonely, with the highest rate of this feeling among young adults aged 19 to 29.
Murthy said social connection seems to protect against depression in people who are more likely to develop depression. The report outlines a six-pillar approach to advancing social connections in communities as a means of fighting loneliness across the U.S.
Murthy just concluded his "We Are Made to Connect" college tour in which he worked "to inspire people to incorporate moments of connection into their daily lives to help improve their health and well-being."
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