Loneliness is simply the feeling of being alone. Loneliness does not necessarily happen when one is alone; it can also be experienced even in the company of a large group of people. Loneliness is a common experience to humans, while it could be a temporary emotion to some it could also be a consistent feeling accompanied with sadness which can be a symptom of a depression. Common mental disorders such as anxiety, dementia, bipolar effective disorder with depression as a common symptom, can be as a result of certain risk factors that affect an individual’s mental health. Loneliness can be connected to genetics, living alone, low esteem and many other contributing factors.
Though several researchers have studied the impact of living alone on one’s mental health, researchers from the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France studied how living alone can affect mental health, this study takes an extensive study on the this factor (living alone) that is not only focused on depression. The study investigates in general how living alone affects common mental disorder (CMD) and the factors that promote the relationship.
The study involved 20,503 adults between the age range of 16–74 and resident in England. The data analyzed from surveys conducted by experts in 1993, 2000, and 2007 by the National Psychiatric Morbidity. Various range of variables were used in the survey, such as education level, alcohol or drug use, weight and height, feeling of loneliness and social support. Using clinically revised questionnaires, the participants were assessed for the experience of neurotic in the previous week.
The results from the research showed that a number of people that live alone had a steady growth, with 8.8% living alone in 1993, 9.8% in 2000 and a similar increase in 2007 of 10.7%. The study across the sexes and age range also showed that there was significant link between having common mental disorder and living alone, with similarities in the three surveys. It was also found that the common mental disorder was to be more in those that lived alone that those that were not living alone:
- 1993: 19.9% vs. 13.6%
- 2000: 23.2% vs. 15.5%
- 2007: 24.7% vs. 15.4%
In an earlier study, the link between loneliness and anxiety or depression was shown, while some investigates loneliness and the increased mortality risk. With further study into the relationship between the common mental disorder and living alone showed that living alone was an important factor with over 80% of the association.
The results of this research and converging lines of evidence suggests that there is a link between living alone and the mental health of an individual, showing stability in this linkage over the years and affecting all sexes and the various age group. Living alone can be said to be a risk factor that can influence one’s mental health.