The feeling of loneliness can affect more than a person’s quality of life: Studies have shown that living alone - or feeling lonely - raises the likelihood of premature death.
One study of 45,000 people aged 45 and over, who suffered or were at risk from heart disease, found that those who lived alone were more likely to die than those who shared a home with others. The hardship can also be felt by young people - with recent research finding that heavy users of social media had higher levels of perceived social isolation.
Loneliness can also affect health in other ways. For example, isolated people may take insufficient exercise, have poor diets or be less willing to visit a doctor. This can increase stress levels, driving up blood pressure and inflammation that could lead to heart disease.