Sunday, 25 September 2016
Feelings of loneliness appear to be partially down to your genes
New research suggests that it's not just the social situation you're in, but also the genes you're born with that affect your likelihood of feeling lonely.
While environmental factors definitely play a bigger role, a new study of more than 10,000 people has shown that loneliness can be partly hereditary too.
As loneliness feeds into all kinds of physical and mental health problems, and is a significant factor in early deaths, scientists are keen to understand more about where it comes from so that we can get better at preventing it.
Specifically, the team was interested in understanding if there could be a genetic risk factor for loneliness.
"We want to know why, genetically speaking, one person is more likely than another to feel lonely, even in the same situation," said lead researcher, psychiatrist Abraham Palmer, from the University of California, San Diego.
"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," he added. "And that's what we mean by 'genetic predisposition to loneliness'."
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