Loneliness may be partially genetic, researchers find

Loneliness might be in your DNA, a new study by the University of California San Diego Health Sciences suggests. According to researchers, loneliness is associated with poor physical and mental health, which is a stronger predictor of early death than obesity.

Abraham Palmer, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and vice chair for basic research at UC San Diego School of Medicine, led the study in which over 10,000 participants aged 50 and over were observed. Essentially, researchers began looking into a potential link between genetics and symptoms of loneliness such as neuroticism and depressive episodes.

Although the study highlighted the importance of genetics in individuals who experience constant loneliness, it was determined that environmental factors still play a bigger role in this type of behavior.
In the study, Palmer, along with his team of researchers, examined participants by using a three-question survey:

  • How often do you feel that you lack companionship?
  • How often do you feel left out?
  • How often do you feel isolated from others?

Moreover, the results concluded that loneliness had a high association with genetics, however, the same could not be said about individuals who suffer from affective disorders — the evidence is minimal. Palmer and his team of researchers have a ‘genetic predictor’ in the works. This predictor will help researchers to gain a better insight into how loneliness is affected by molecular mechanisms.

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