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Chronic loneliness changes the chemicals produced in the brain, causing feelings of aggression and fear, scientists have discovered.
But an old, largely failed psychiatric drug might work to alleviate those negative emotions by suppressing the loneliness chemical.
Social - Isolation - Problem - US - Rates
Social isolation has been a growing problem in the US, and has been not only led to increased rates of depression and post traumatic stress disorder, but to higher risks of chronic disease.
Although the California Institute of Technology researchers made their discovery in mice, it may some day help us to develop improved treatments for or even preventative measures against mental illnesses.
Loneliness - US - Proportions
Loneliness in the US has been said to be at epidemic proportions.
Earlier this month, health insurer Cigna conducted a study of 20,000 Americans to measure loneliness.
Majority - Americans - Category - University - California
The majority of Americans fall into the category of being lonely on the University of California, Los Angeles Loneliness Scale.
Many Americans feel alone all the time, misunderstood and as though their relationships are shallow.
Loneliness - Problem - Age - Survey - Generation
Loneliness has historically been regarded as a problem of old age, but the survey found that generation Z - those between 18 and 22 - are the loneliest people in the US.
Not only does loneliness make a clear contribution to depression and anxiety disorders, but scientists have now linked it to physical ailments as well.
People - Bodies - Stress - Hormone - Cortisol
Lonely people's bodies produce more of the stress hormone, cortisol, and can lead to overall inflammation.
A form of stress, loneliness can then in turn increase the risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia, especially for those who are chronically alone - or feel that they are.
Experiments - Mice - Isolation - Periods - Brain
In experiments, mice kept in isolation for long periods produced more of a brain protein linked to fear.
The chemical - known as Tac2/NkB - causes animals to display much more persistent responses to threats, say scientists.
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