Loneliness in Middle-Aged Men

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As men grow older, their friendships don't multiply. They actually fade away and from a health standpoint, that's bad. (KFSN)

As men grow older, their friendships don't multiply. They actually fade away and from a health standpoint, that's bad. In fact, it can even speed up death according to one Harvard psychiatrist.

Midlife crisis; it's not just an excuse for guys to go out and buy a red convertible. Research show's it's the real deal. In fact, studies say one in five Americans, especially men, fall into isolation when they let friendships lapse.

"Yes I do believe that loneliness in middle-aged men is serious is a real concern absolutely," said The Reverend Bradford Clark.

Reverend Clark and his parishioner Jim Field get together regularly because they know the importance of guy time.

Field stated "A lot of times I find my purpose through my friendships with others, but friendships require cultivation just like a garden."

Life-changing events, like death, divorce, or job loss often trigger isolation and more often in men than women.

"It's a given that women are much quicker to pick up the phone, much quicker to have lunch, much quicker to sit and talk face-to-face and guys don't do that." Reverend Clark said.

Psychiatrist Richard S. Schwartz, MD, said "Everybody doesn't want to say they are lonely because it makes you feel like a loser. You are not a loser if you are lonely."

Doctor Richard Schwartz wrote The Lonely American with his wife and has consulted patients for more than 30 years.

"Most will tell you something had to give and what gave is friends. I think of myself as having friends but I don't see them anymore and so over time the people start to slip away and they realize the connections aren't there." Dr. Schwartz explained.

And long-term loneliness can have huge medical consequences.

Dr. Schwartz continued, "The effect of social isolation and loneliness on our health is as powerful as things like smoking, high blood pressure, obesity."

"It is like that Nike slogan just do it. Don't think about it. Just do it. Call somebody up and invite them to do something with you." Reverend Clark told Ivanhoe.

It's a connection that may save your life.

Don't think texting and Facebook count. They don't. Digital friends aren't the same as face-to-face friends.

For More Information, Contact:

Richard S. Schwartz, MD
Psychiatrist
rschwartz@hms.harvard.edu

Laura Neves
Senior Public Affairs
Specialist
lneves1@partners.org

Related Topics:
healthmental healthhealth watch
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