If you are experiencing loneliness, it turns out we are all expected to do so at specific times in life.
The three periods when loneliness peaks may come as a surprise to you. According to research published Tuesday (December 19)in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, more people reported feeling moderate to severe loneliness during their late 20s, their mid-50s and their late 80s than in other life periods.
Senior author of the study and professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego says: "These are three periods of life that are full of stress for different reasons."
For this study, Jeste and his colleagues surveyed 340 average adults, aged 27 to 101, living in San Diego. Each person's loneliness was measured using several different measures, including a 20-point loneliness scale developed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
The study found that three-quarters of all participants reported moderate to high levels of loneliness. Here are notes on each "period of loneliness":
- The late 20s are a time when people are making choices that will affect the rest of their lives, such as their career, their choice of life partner and where they will settle. "It really puts a lot of responsibility on you," Jeste said. "It's a really difficult period. And when you compare yourself to others, you might feel you aren't doing as well as your peers."
- The mid-50s are when people tend to experience a mid-life crisis, as signs of aging highlight the fact that their time on Earth is limited. "You see some of your friends dying, sometimes family members," Jeste said. "You become aware of your mortality for the first time."
- The late 80s are a time of increased helplessness. Half of people at this age have dementia, and their physical abilities are in decline. "Often you've lost your spouse, and you don't have many people left around you, either family or friends," Jeste said.
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