Loneliness and Mental Health: The Mediating Effect of Perceived Social Support

Elody Hutten, Ellen M. M. Jongen, Anique E. C. C. Vos, Anja J. H. C. van den Hout, Jacques J. D. M. van Lankveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Social connectedness is a fundamental human need. The Evolutionary Theory of Loneliness (ETL) predicts that a lack of social connectedness has long-term mental and physical health consequences. Social support is a potential mechanism through which loneliness influences health. The present cross-sectional study examined the relationship between loneliness and mental health, and the mediating effects of social support in a Dutch adult sample (N = 187, age 20 to 70). The health variables included in the study are anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms as measured by the SCL-90, and the DSM-5 diagnosis somatic symptom disorder. The results indicated that social support partially mediated the relationship between loneliness and anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms. These results indicate that social support partially explains the relationship between loneliness and physical and mental health issues. The relationship between loneliness and being diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder was not mediated by social support. This suggests that the mechanisms through which loneliness relates to either somatic symptoms or somatic symptom disorder are different.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11963
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2021

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