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Isolation Week: Loneliness and mental health

What effect does loneliness have on your mental health? 10News spoke to a mental health expert for answers.

What effect does loneliness have on mental health?

As part of the Isolation Week series, 10News spoke to Jamie Ogle, the assistant director of the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center at Helen Ross McNabb.

Isolation Week: Stephanie's daily blog and video blog

"As humans we are wired for connectedness," Ogle said.

Ogle said research shows loneliness can affect us.

"We have a huge body of evidence, research that shows us that the correlation between connectedness and mental health as well as physical well being is very, very strong," Ogle said.

She said studies show people who are more isolated can develop depression, health issues and even death.

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"Mortality rates are higher for individuals who are isolated, lonely," Ogle said.

Ogle said living in isolation is often not a choice.

"For the elderly, especially, you're looking at individuals who, often because of the phase of life they're in, they have suffered a great deal of loss," Ogle said. "And so they maybe have lost their spouse, or lost their siblings, lost life-long friends."

If you're worried about a neighbor or loved one, Ogle said to look out for changes in personality. She said loneliness can sometimes make a person irritable or cranky. Ogle suggested reaching out to that person or helping them discover a new sense of purpose, like getting a pet or taking up a hobby like gardening.

Quiz: How many older adults do you think live alone nationwide?

If you believe you are isolated and experiencing symptoms of depression, Ogle said to call your doctor. She said you can also call the Helen Ross McNabb Center for help at the general number 1-800-255-9711 or the mobile crisis unit at 1-865-539-2409.