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    Effects of chronic and state loneliness on heart rate variability in women

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    Summary: Chronic loneliness is associated with altered parasympathetic function among women. It can also be concluded that the immediate experience of state loneliness is found to be linked to a proximate increase in HRV among chronically lonely women.

    Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

    We have all felt lonely at some point of time in our lives. Loneliness can be looked into as a subjective experience of social isolation, that represents one of the largest risk factors, leading to physical illness and early death in humans. However, the cause and effect relationship by which loneliness leads to adverse health outcomes are yet to be understood.

    In a study conducted by the psychologist of University Of British Columbia, they examined the alteration of parasympathetic nervous system function, as a potential pathway through which chronic loneliness and state loneliness can contribute to impact cardiovascular physiology. In laboratory settings under control, vagally mediated resting heart rate variability (HRV), HRV reactivity to a state of induced loneliness, and the data was collected on 316 women of age range 18-28 years.

    The results indicated greater chronic loneliness in women predicted lower resting HRV, it was an independent risk factor leading to cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, after controlling for psychosocial, demographic, and health behavior covariates.

    Moreover, women higher in chronic loneliness were found to experience significantly larger increases in HRV to state loneliness and reported significantly higher levels of negative affect in the immediately following state loneliness, compared with those women who were less chronically lonely. Chronic loneliness also predicted blunted HRV reactivity, which is a maladaptive physiological response, providing cognitive challenge.

    The current findings serve as evidence that chronic loneliness is associated with altered parasympathetic function among women. It can also be concluded that the immediate experience of state loneliness is found to be linked to a proximate increase in HRV among chronically lonely women.



    Published: Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

    Contact: Charlotte M Roddick, Department of Psychology, The University of British Columbia.

    Details: Image source Istock.

     

    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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