Dr. Oz: We Have a Loneliness Epidemic

There is a new health epidemic that is affecting our country, especially women, according to a new survey.

“The biggest surprise that I have is that we have a loneliness epidemic. People are lonely,” Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” tells FOXBusiness.com.

Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon who is heading into the eighth season of his health-focused talk show, says his team conducted the survey with 1,500 women over the summer.

The findings reveal that 60% of women say they deal with loneliness and 20% of them say they are lonely most of the time.

“They have drive-by friendships. Sure, they have social media and they text their friends, but it’s not the same as actually looking someone in the eyes and communicating,” he adds.

Oz says loneliness can affect your immune system and increase your risk of heart disease as well as depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, females have higher rates of depression than males in every age group and the highest rate of depression, 12.3%, was found in women ages 40-59. The lowest rate of depression was found in males ages 12-17 (4.0%) as well as 60 and over (3.4%).

“We need to look at each other and have empathy and inquire back and forth, by actually seeing each other as we speak,” says Oz. “Social media is fabulous because it gives you many opportunities to connect with people, however, sometimes it will falsely lead you to believe that you are getting what you need out of it.”

The key, he says, is to use social media as an asset for making initial connections with friends and family, but then follow up with a phone call or face-to-face meeting.

“Use it as a tool and an asset to do what really does move the human brain and the needle towards wellness,” he adds. “Humans are always designed to live in community, so we have to pull folks back together again. You can’t force them but you have to give folks a path to regaining that confidence that they once had.”