Americans seem to be less involved socially than in the past. Community ties are not what they used to be and all of this leads to more people who are isolated and lonely. We all know that lonely individuals can become depressed, especially when they are not involved in a religious organization, because churches are a wonderful source of social integration.
Some individuals are more at risk than others. For example, adults who lost a parent when they were younger, and adults who suffered from low-esteem as children/teens are more likely to suffer from chronic loneliness as adults.
Lonely people report more health problems and mental health issues. Some other common effects of loneliness include depression, mood swings, addictive behaviors, low energy, chronic fatigue, and poor sleep patterns. It can even effect how well one's body responds to a flu shot!
Reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors who may be suffering from loneliness can be rewarding for everyone. Invite them to join you for a walk around the block. Invite them to a social/community activity or church meeting. Share a snack or current events item.
Older members of your community or church have a wealth of information about the past. Ask them about a specific historic event, or about their childhood. Have them tell you a story or share a recipe. Share a bit of your time and enjoy the rewarding feeling that comes from helping others.