Loneliness NZ

Loneliness Q&A: Is...?

Search engines receive many questions about feeling alone and loneliness. In this page, we provide short answers to many of the more commonly searched ‘Is’ questions. For fuller answers, we encourage you to explore the website.


Is loneliness an emotion?

Loneliness is an emotion that motivates us to seek out people and form meaningful connections with them. During our evolutionary history, loneliness motivated humans to form and stay in groups with others they could trust and depend on to look after the greater good, enabling higher survival rates.

Is loneliness good?

Humans are a social species that benefits from working together. Loneliness is good at the point it is telling us we need to fix poor relationships, or get new meaningful relationships. It doesn’t matter how many acquaintances you have – loneliness is pointing to a need for more quality relationships.

Is loneliness bad?

Loneliness is bad for us if it is prolonged. Physically, prolonged loneliness can lead to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, high stress-sensitive hormone cortisol, and altered gene expression. Mentally, prolonged loneliness can lead to social anxiety, depression, paranoia, dementia, and obsessive compulsive symptoms.

Is loneliness a disease?

Loneliness is not strictly a disease. Loneliness alerts you to develop more meaningful relationships. However, prolonged loneliness can harm you: the effect on individuals is now recognised to be as harmful as cigarette smoking and obesity. Furthermore, the increase in loneliness in populations has been compared to epidemics.

Is loneliness dangerous?

Initial loneliness is not dangerous. However prolonged loneliness affects physical and mental health, and that can be dangerous. One of the biggest concerns of prolonged loneliness is how it changes people’s thinking. Lonely people who decline into depression, mental illness and suicide ideation are at risk of harming themselves.

Is being on your own harmful?

Being on your own is not harmful if you enjoy long periods of solitude, and you are able to live in a healthy, safe way. When you feel socially isolated you can start feeling the effects of not having company; and prolonged loneliness is harmful to your health.

Is there a way to tell if others are lonely?

Lonely people do not always show their feelings to others. Some signs you can look out for:

  • Displaying addictive behaviours;
  • Overly focused on pets or children;
  • Withdrawing more into themselves;
  • Constantly talking and seeking attention;
  • Increasing unwellness;
  • Having purely transactional communication;
  • Overwhelming sadness;
  • Many acquaintances and no meaningful friends.

Is social media bad for you?

In terms of loneliness, social media is only bad for you if you are using it as a substitute for meaningful quality relationships. Getting pleasure from other people’s happiness is good; constantly feeling you are missing out means you would be better off with more quality face-to-face friendships.

Do you have any other questions?

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