Are you prone to feeling lonely? Then you’ve only got your ancestors to blame.
Scientists have discovered that feelings of isolation are partly due to a group ‘loneliness genes’ passed down the generations. And unfortunately for those with the genes, being lonely is a permanent condition – and can be a signal for more serious mental health problems.
However, the genetic influence accounts for just 14 to 27 per cent of typical loneliness, with environmental factors – such as education, poverty and physical health – making up the rest. Researchers from the University of California San Diego analysed a mental health study of 10,750 people aged 50-plus. They discovered a combination of genes linked to depression and neurosis were found in those showing signs of loneliness, said journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
The researchers concluded: ‘Loneliness tends to be co-inherited with neuroticism (long-term negative emotional state) and a scale of depressive symptoms.’ – Daily Mail