All humans need food, water, rest and shelter to stay healthy. But what if we told you that social connection is just as important? That’s right—social connection is about more than having fun together. It plays a large part in keeping you healthy—emotionally and physically.

Studies show that as a nation, we’re becoming lonelier. Nearly 50% of American adults report experiencing loneliness.1 We might point the finger at the pandemic, assuming that social distancing and more work-from-home jobs have cut off some of our usual connections. But in reality, the problem existed long before the pandemic. Our use of technology over time has reduced our need for other people. We can work, play, communicate, date and learn while sitting in front of a screen. Doing these things in person is often more difficult and time-consuming.

Social isolation vs. loneliness

Social isolation occurs when someone lacks social connections. Loneliness is a feeling of being alone, no matter how many social connections you might have. That means someone with many friends, family or work connections can still feel lonely.

Health impacts of loneliness

Loneliness can have a significant impact on your health, both physically and mentally. In fact, studies have found that social isolation can increase a person’s risk for having a stroke by 32%.A recently published Surgeon General report shows that the risk of premature death is the same as smoking up to 15 cigarettes day.1 You’re also more likely to develop conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia. Anxiety and depression risks may increase as well.2

Loneliness can impact anyone—young, old, healthy or ill. If you or someone you know is feeling lonely, try (or suggest) some strategies for healthier socialization:

Fending off loneliness and increasing your social interactions takes time. If you or someone you love is struggling with loneliness, reach out to a Teladoc Health therapist to chat. Together you can discover strategies that will help.

Find my therapist

Published June 13, 2023


This portion of the Teladoc Health website occasionally offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Teladoc Health cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical- or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.