Feeling lonely? It could be in your DNA

A new study has revealed loneliness could be in your genes [Photo: Marina Shatskih via Pexels]

Sitting on the sofa sobbing into the Häagen-Daz while warbling out ‘All By Myself’? We feel you! But while you might blame a social media orientated social life, crazy work schedule and various other factors for your loneliness, science says it could have more to do with your parents.

Feeling blue is becoming quite the public health problem of late. Linked to poor physical and mental health, it can be just as good a predictor of early death as obesity. Yikes! So it’s little wonder more resources are being used to investigate the causes. And in a pretty major new study by University of California San Diego School of Medicine and published in Neuropsychopharmacology, scientists have discovered that loneliness could actually be in your DNA.

The research sought to discover what makes one person more likely than another to feel lonely, even in the same situation, and the findings reveal that loneliness appears to be a “modestly heritable” trait.

In the study researchers collected data from the Health and Retirement Study. The 10,700 participants, aged 50 and older, answered three questions that measure loneliness; How often do you feel that you lack companionship? How often do you feel left out? How often do you feel isolated from others?

All by myself! [Photo: unsplash.com via Pexels]

These questions helped separate those whose perception of isolation is dictated by circumstance, and those who are more likely to feel alone no matter the context or situation. And the results revealed that the degree of loneliness that any two people feel in the same situation may vary widely.

“For two people with the same number of close friends and family, one might see their social structure as adequate while the other doesn’t,” said Abraham Palmer, lead author of the study, a professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. This means some of us have a “genetic predisposition to loneliness.”

But its not all doom and gloom. Even if you have inherited some sort of ‘lonely gene’, researchers claim there could be an upside to loneliness in that it may be “part of a biological warning system that has evolved to alert us of threats or damage to our social body.” In other words if you take the warning, loneliness can be a useful feeling, giving you the push you need to call or text a friend before you get sucked in even deeper. 

And if you choose to ignore it, well then there’s always sitting on the sofa sobbing into the Häagen-Daz and warbling out ‘All by myself.’

How do you cope with loneliness? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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