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Nationwide Survey Reveals That A Lonliness Epidemic Has Taken Hold Of America’s Youth

Have you ever felt so lonely that you couldn’t bear to be awake? Well, you aren’t alone. According to a nationwide survey conducted by Cigna, a leading health insurance provider, loneliness is a widespread issue throughout America’s youth. Based on the study’s findings, nearly half of those that responded admitted to always feeling left out or alone, and when broken down by age group, it’s the younger generations that feel it the worst.

Cigna surveyed 20,000 adults using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, which utilizes a series of statements and a formula to score a person’s loneliness. Developed by the University of California, Los Angeles, the scale ranges from 20 to 80, with anything above 42 being considered “lonely” in Cigna’s scoring.

Based on the 20,000 responses, Cigna found that 54 percent stated they were “always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well.” Fifty-six percent of the participants also admitted to feeling like “they sometimes or always felt like the people around them ‘are not necessarily with them.”

Keeping in mind that a score of 43 and higher was considered lonely, the survey showed that the average loneliness score in the United States was 44. “Half of Americans view themselves as lonely,” David Cordani, president and CEO of Cigna Corp. revealed. According to Dr. Douglas Nemecek, Cigna’s chief medical officer for behavioral health, the survey showed that younger generations were the loneliest. Members of Generation Z, who were born anywhere from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, scored an average of 48.3, which was five points higher than Millenials and ten points higher than the “Greatest Generation.”

It’s easy to blame the advent of social media for the apparent growing disconnect between younger generations, but Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a Brigham Young University psychology, explains that it’s based on how users engage social media. “[I]f you’re using it to reach out and connect to people to facilitate other kinds of [in person] interactions, it’s associated with more positive effects.”

To support Holt-Lunstad’s claim, Cigna’s survey showed that people who claimed to have frequent face-to-face interactions proved to feel less lonely.