Isolation, Loneliness and Mental Health

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Existential Concerns and Cognitive-Behavioral Procedures: An Integrative Approach to Mental Health


In this chapter, we discuss two conceptualisations of loneliness: a singular construct and a multidimensional construct that can be experienced in both social and emotional forms. Based on these two views of loneliness, we discuss measurement approaches and difficulties capturing loneliness, which can be a highly subjective experience. We review two key theories that may help to explain how loneliness arises, is maintained and may be overcome. These are cognitive theories of loneliness and the social identity approach. The chapter goes on to highlight the significant physical and mental health implications of loneliness, including proposed mechanisms by which health affects loneliness and conversely how loneliness can affect health. Finally, we discuss research about the relationship between loneliness and various forms of psychopathology, including depression, anxiety, psychosis and substance use disorders. Empirical studies are reviewed throughout, and clinical implications of this evidence are highlighted.

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