JOPLIN, Mo. — Federal experts are warning of the dangers loneliness poses to your health. A recent study points to a range of impacts, including your immune system, comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“The harmful consequences of society that lack social connection can be felt in our schools, workplaces, and civic organizations where performance productivity and engagement are diminished,” said Clay Veurink, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

The advisory further reads, “We are called to build a movement to mend the social fabric of our nation such as we can start basically we can start now in our own lives by strengthening our connections and relationships.”

A quote from the U.S. Surgeon General warning of the dangers of isolation and loneliness.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s increasing dementia, increases in stress, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, anxiety, obesity, suicidal thoughts, substance use and abuse, personality disorders, and premature death,” said Veurink.

Current trends tie back into the COVID-19 pandemic but isn’t the only factor.

“Pre-COVID people were suffering. Some silently, some not so silently. Some were seeking help. Some didn’t know where to seek help and with COVID was social isolation and actually was a benefit for mental health because it brought it to the forefront of ‘We need to worry about this.'”

Reversing the trend can start with connecting with others.

“There are several ways we can overcome loneliness – get active, get involved in your community. Find friends that have like-minded hobbies, gardening with friends, getting a mother of numerous civic groups in the community that are involved, that you can get involved depending on what you’d like to do. Just kind of get out there and make friends get to know people,” Veurink added.