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Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well: The Perils of Loneliness

Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well recently interviewed Itai Danovitch, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, about the physical, mental and emotional effects of loneliness and how to maintain independence without feeling lonely.

"Social interactions are a core part of our identity, our sense of safety, of our ability to meet basic needs, and of our wellbeing … really critical to every phase of life," Danovitch told Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well host Patricia Greenberg. “Whether we're playing with others as children or forging personal connections in the workplace as adults, social interactions are crucial to thriving and surviving.”

When people start to feel lonely and unhappy, it can lead to unhealthy habits. Danovitch said the worse one feels, the more they might be inclined to cope in negative ways that immediately make them feel better. “Managing stress and anxiety or getting to sleep by having multiple drinks every night is a maladaptive coping pattern. … Our body starts to adjust in ways that create problems for us,” he told Greenberg. 

Danovitch recommends getting connected to a community center, or getting involved in new hobbies, volunteering or public service and other activities one enjoys that bring us closer to others.

"We want to think about deliberately creating a community for ourselves, creating connections, so we don't suddenly end up in a position where we are dependent, socially isolated, you know, alone and then struggling," Danovitch told Greenberg. "That creates resilience and creates support for us so that then when we do need help, you know, we have that."

Click here to listen to the complete interview from Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well.