New York– Researchers, including one of Indian origin, Dilip V. Jeste, have found that levels of loneliness were highest in the people in 20s and lowest in 60s, with another peak in the mid-40s.
For the study published in the journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the research team used a web-based survey of 2,843 participants from 20 to 69 years across the US.
“What we found was a range of predictors of loneliness across the lifespan,” said senior author Dilip Jeste from the University of California, San Diego, US.
The researchers noted that lower levels of empathy and compassion, smaller social networks, not having a spouse or a partner and greater sleep disturbances were consistent predictors of loneliness across all decades.
Lower social self-efficacy — or the ability to reflect confidence in exerting control over one’s own motivation, behaviour and social environment — and higher anxiety were associated with worse loneliness in all age-decades except the 60s.
Loneliness was also associated with a lower level of decisiveness in the 50s.
The study confirmed previous reports of a strong inverse association between loneliness and wisdom, especially the pro-social behavioural component (empathy and compassion).
“Compassion seems to reduce the level of loneliness at all ages by enabling individuals to accurately perceive and interpret others’ emotions along with helpful behaviour towards others, and thereby increasing their own social self-efficacy and social networks,” Jeste added.
The survey suggested that people in their 20s were dealing with high stress and pressure while trying to establish a career and find a life partner.
According to the study, people in their 40s start to experience physical challenges and health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Jeste said the findings are specially relevant during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want to understand what strategies may be effective in reducing loneliness during this challenging time,” Jeste added.
The researchers noted that loneliness is worsened by social distancing which is necessary to stop the spread of the pandemic. (IANS)