‘Epidemic’ of loneliness, isolation can endanger health

UCI Health expert comments on surgeon general’s warning

May 10, 2023
uci health psychiatrist jody rawles indoors wearing shirt tie and glasses commenting on surgeon general's warning on an epidemic of loneliness and isolation in the united states
UCI Health psychiatrist Dr. Jody Rawles says loneliness
was a problem before the pandemic.

IN THE NEWS: The loneliness and isolation of Americans increased during the pandemic and has worsened since. Now, a new report from the U.S. surgeon general cites it as an epidemic that has major health consequences.

KABC7 television news logo blue white blackSurgeon General Vivek Murphy said loneliness leads to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. It also increases the risk of premature death to levels comparable to daily cigarette smoking.

UCI Health psychiatrist Dr. Jody Rawles, who spoke with ABC7 about the surgeon general’s report, suggests taking it as a call to action.

"Someone reading this may think 'Oh no, I'm lonely, I'm going to die of a heart attack.' Don't overthink it. Just start figuring out how you can make an incremental small improvement.”

Rawles is a psychiatrist with UCI Health Psychiatry Services. He is also executive vice chair and a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at the UCI School of Medicine. His clinical interests include bipolar disorder, depression, psychiatry and pregnancy, schizophrenia, somatoform disorders and suicide prevention.

Watch the interview

Read more: