U of T Researchers May Have Found The Reason Loneliness Leads To Depression

Jan 5, 2017

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
-Mother Teresa

At one time or another, everyone experiences moments of social isolation, when there is no one around and the world is confined to one’s own existence. In short bursts these moments of solitude can be therapeutic and may lead to moments of emotional regeneration or creativity. Yet when loneliness becomes chronic, the effects may be deleterious to one’s emotional health. 

Humans have a fundamental desire to be needed. The absence of this can lead to a variety of mental health conditions, including addiction, antisocial behaviour and depression. While from a purely psychological perspective, this consequence of isolation is well-defined, at the physiological level, the mechanisms have remained only vaguely understood.

But that may now change thanks to a team of researchers from the University of Toronto, led by Dr. Evelyn Lambe. The group published a study examining the effects on social isolation on the mouse brain. The results, published by Sargin et al. in the journal, eLife,  point to a specific mechanism and more importantly, a possible route for treatment.

The article is profiled by the Canadian Association of Neuroscience. Read more

 

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