(CBS) Some health experts have been concerned that Americans would experience more loneliness with social distancing restrictions. But a national survey from Florida State University College of Medicine finds the measures did not lead to an uptick in loneliness in the first months of the pandemic.
Dr. Martina Luchetti is the lead author of the study that surveyed more than 2,000 people in February before the pandemic, and then in March and again in late April. “We also were surprised that overall there was actually people feeling more socially supported by others,” Dr. Luchetti says.
Loneliness is considered a serious public health concern. Studies show loneliness is not only linked to depression, it’s also a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. “Even if we are socially or like physically isolated from others, we can still reach out with other ways,” Dr. Luchetti says.
81 year old Ann Cleare is a real estate agent. Even though she’s been staying home more than usual during this pandemic, she’s still keeping busy.
“Reach out to other people rather than wait for them to reach out to you. Sometimes that’s difficult for older people, you know,” Ann says. “I think the best thing to do is to keep busy, you know, you can keep busy at home.” For Ann that means doing things she enjoys, like yard work.
Researchers say more study is needed to help identify factors that may put some people at risk for loneliness.