Loneliness — Silent Stalker (Part 1)

CPTSD Foundation
4 min readMar 20, 2024


“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” — Mother Teresa

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines loneliness as a distressing feeling that accompanies the perception that one’s social needs are not being met by the quantity or especially the quality of one’s social relationships.

On June 14, 2022, The American Medical Association (AMA) published a press release that outlined the launch of the new 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline with mobile crisis teams on the ready for dispatch. The number replaces the 1–800 number previously used for such emergencies.

In their press release, the NIH also recognizes “loneliness as a public health issue and [supports] evidence-based efforts to combat loneliness.” In addition, the NIH continues:

With extensive research showing evidence of the strong causal relationship between social relationships and longevity, the AMA adopted policy…identifying loneliness as a public health issue that impacts people of all ages. The new policy also supports evidence-based efforts to combat loneliness. Studies show that loneliness is not only a significant predictor of functional decline and premature death similar to, or exceeding, the risk from obesity, but loneliness in adolescence is associated with impaired sleep, symptoms of depression, and poorer health in general. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, loneliness is a public health issue that predates, but has been intensified by, the COVID-19 pandemic.

To add, AMA Board Member Ilse R. Levin, D.O., M.P.H. confirmed that “ Loneliness is a public health issue that can negatively impact people of all ages. However, [since the COVID pandemic,] younger generations are experiencing more loneliness than older generations, and it’s important that we take steps to combat it.”

Dr. Ramon Diaz, a clinical mental health practitioner, and guest author here at CPTSD Foundation, also shared the following:

The presentation of ‘loneliness’ symptoms is complex in a person. The emotional experience of loneliness for many patients is unbearable. In a recent empirical study, the results conveyed that people experience symptoms of ‘dread, rumination, low motivation to complete daily tasks, and…gut health problems’ due to experiencing chronic loneliness.

Sitting Was The New Smoking — Now it’s Loneliness

Over the decades, the messaging on nicotine has been clear. Nicotine addiction results in death. The latest data suggests approximately fifteen percent of Americans use nicotine daily, equal to about fifty million people.

The stats on loneliness are far worse.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, thirty percent of Americans, about 1 in 3, have experienced loneliness in the past year. That math equates to about 115,000,000 Americans, all of whom are as susceptible (if not more susceptible) to an array of diseases:

In 2023, The U.S. Surgeon Ge neral, , published “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” as part of the This compelling Vivek Murthy U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. report is a call to action for all who wish to solve the problem of this under-exposed epidemic.

Differences Between Loneliness and Isolation

While the two are invariably connected, there are a few differences between loneliness and isolation.

According to the NIH, loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated. Social isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly.

Therefore, loneliness is a mindset or an emotional state. While we can sometimes strive to be alone to reconcile our thoughts or clear our heads, this scenario doesn’t truly constitute loneliness as we feel connected to people and things around us. Isolation, or more predominantly social isolation, allows for a level of decision-making, subconscious or not.

Dr. Diaz adds that “l oneliness cannot be treated, simply by ‘talk therapy.’ More recent research shows that loneliness has both physiological and biological effects. Body-based therapy approaches are equally as important as talk therapy modalities.” Moreover, Dr Diaz distinguishes that “the ‘felt sense’ of being heard and validated in therapy is vital for a patient to experience.” Furthermore, he acknowledges that “loneliness is usually influenced by someone’s attachment system, which is how the brain is wired before the age of 6, a wiring that informs people throughout their lives in terms of what relationships stand for.”

If you are dealing with extended periods of loneliness, consider speaking with a mental health professional to discuss your concerns. Long-term loneliness (or isolation) is a serious health issue that should not be ignored.

-> NEXT MONDAY 3/18/2024: In part 2 of this series, we will examine the evolution of and the different types of loneliness.

Originally published at https://cptsdfoundation.org.



CPTSD Foundation

Successfully equipping complex trauma survivors and practitioners with compassionate support, skills, and trauma-informed education since 2014.