Loneliness as a Component of Psychiatric Disorders

Richard Booth, PhD


Medscape General Medicine. 2000;2(2) 

In This Article

Loneliness and Selected Other Psychiatric Conditions

In addition to the data reported in earlier sections of this paper, loneliness also appears to be related to stress. In general, loneliness appears to be quite stressful. When DeBerard and Kleinknecht[32] looked at the relationship between the intensity and duration of loneliness, they found that both were significantly correlated with each other as well as with reported psychological and physical stress symptoms. They also found that the longer people were lonely, the greater was the likelihood that they would report a wide array of somatic and psychological stress symptoms. These findings are suggestive of immune-system involvement and resiliency issues, and more work needs to be done in this area.

Brink and Niemeyer[33] explored the relationship between hypochondriasis, loneliness, and social functioning, and found that both hypochondriasis and poor coping skills were highly correlated with loneliness. Subdividing depression into introjective (self-critical) and anaclitic (dependency) components, Schachter and Zlotogorski[34] found that both subtypes of depression were highly correlated with loneliness, concluding that, while the introjective subtype accounted for more of the variance in the loneliness scores, the anaclitic subtype was also significantly related to loneliness. Their data suggest that both the self-critical and the dependency aspects of depression should be considered integral to understanding loneliness in their respondents. In addition, cognitive disorganization has been shown to be highly correlated with loneliness, complementing the cognitive findings already discussed. Finally, loneliness has been shown to be related to a number of physical disorders, which not only may complicate the loneliness, but in some cases may also exacerbate the physical dysfunction.[32,35,36]