Loneliness may hurt more than your child’s feelings.

Adults who experienced loneliness in childhood are more likely to endure psychosis as a result, according to early findings presented at the European Congress of Psychiatry.

Researchers analyzed reports from 285 people who had experienced their first episode of psychosis and 261 people who had not.

Compared to participants who reported having social childhoods, researchers found that people who reported feeling lonely for more than six months before the age of 12 may have a greater risk of experiencing psychosis — hallucinations, delusions and confused thoughts — later in life.

“There is increasing evidence of the negative health and social consequences of loneliness in adults, but much less is known about the long-term effects of loneliness in young people,” Dr. Covadonga Diaz-Caneja of the Institute of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Maranon, Madrid, Spain, said in a statement during the conference, which took place April 6-9 in Budapest, Hungary.

“Despite their preliminary nature, our results suggest that childhood loneliness may serve as an early risk factor for later psychotic disorders and support its role as a potential target for preventive mental health interventions from an early age.”

Childhood loneliness was associated with a 117% increased chance of experiencing a psychotic episode later in life even when accounting for factors such as social isolation, according to a report by the Independent.

The shocking results were even more true of women.

Those who reported experiencing loneliness in their elementary years were found to have a 374% higher chance of psychosis in adulthood while their male counterparts showed a comparatively marginal 17% increase.

“This may be especially relevant considering that childhood loneliness is a prevalent phenomenon that appears to be increasing in recent years,” Diaz-Caneja said.

The US officially declared loneliness an epidemic in 2022 as Americans reported increased feelings of loneliness and worsening mental health coming out of the pandemic.

Professor Andrea Fiorillo, the president-elect of the European Psychiatric Association, said the new findings highlight “a concerning trend and underscore the importance of addressing social connectedness and emotional well-being from an early age.”

Experts are increasingly warning of the physical and mental health risks of loneliness — one study even found that the state of mind is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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