Loneliness has reached epidemic levels in the US.
In May, Cigna health insurance published results of a survey in which most American adults were considered lonely. Younger people like Millennials and Generation Z are the loneliest.
The company used a questionnaire based on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, the measure most commonly used by researchers.
In order for the rest of us to feel lonely, Cigna published a 10-question version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale questionnaire on Wednesday. Daniel Russell, who created the original scale.
Loneliness can have a major impact on your health, from sleep disorders and increasing stress to weakening a person's immune system. It is also associated with cognitive decline, heart disease and greater frailty later in life. Recent research has shown that this affects the mortality rate so much that loneliness can be considered a threat to public health that is more harmful than obesity and about as bad as smoking.
Read More: Loneliness may be a greater threat to public health than obesity ̵
"Loneliness is a normal feeling", dr. Doug Nemecek Head of Behavioral Health at Cigna opposite Business Insider. Everyone will feel lonely at some point in their lives. The key is to find out who could be chronically lonely, which could negatively impact people's health, he said.
The test questions such as "how often do you feel isolated from others?" and "How often do you feel that you have much in common with the people around you?" with options to answer "never," "rarely," "sometimes," or "always."
Evaluation of Loneliness
Starting in February, Cigna interviewed 20,000 US adults over the age of 18, together with research firm Ipsos, to assess the state of loneliness using the UCLA questionnaire.
The possible loneliness values were between 20 and 80 in the scale, everything over 43 was classified as "lonely". The average score was 44, which qualifies most Americans as lonely.
Nearly half of respondents said they sometimes felt alone or felt exuberant. About 27% of Americans said they rarely or never understood humans. One-fifth of respondents said they rarely or never feel close to people, and just under half said they did not have meaningful relationships or felt isolated.
Young people, in particular, reported high loneliness rates, with rates gradually declining with age.
Kevin Loria contributed to the coverage.