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The breakdown in communities and social connection in the past twenty years is the main cause of loneliness, isolation and depression. In this post, Dr. Deam Ornish, who is Medical Editor of the Huffington Post, explains that these direct causes not only “affect the quality of our lives, but research has shown that it affects the quantity of our lives — our survival.” 

It’s great to be with them in person, but even a text message, a phone call, or an online community can be healing.

He goes on to explain that the need for social connection is primal:

Study after study has shown that people who are lonely, depressed, and isolated — the most pervasive epidemics in our country — are three to 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have a strong sense of connection and community. I don’t know any factor in medicine that has a more powerful influence on our health and well-being.

Luckily, he offers some good news, which is that social support can be found in many forms:

Nicholas Christakis at Harvard conducted research published in The New England Journal of Medicine and described in his TED talk showing how powerful these connections are: • If your friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 45 percent higher; • If your friend’s friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 25 percent higher; • If your friend’s friend’s friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 10 percent higher — even if you’ve never met them! That’s how interconnected we are. This pattern is also seen with many other measures, including smoking, drinking, depression, happiness, altruism, even predicting epidemics. These researchers found that social distance is more important than geographical distance. We found the same thing. In other words, what matters most is feeling loved and supported by people you care about. It’s great to be with them in person, but even a text message, a phone call, or an online community can be healing.

Read full article here.

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