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Season 3 Episode 1 - The Lonely Brain

Release Date: March 19, 2024 |  Run Time: 24:44 |  Download Episode 1 transcript

In a sweeping 2023 report, the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, declared loneliness an epidemic and a public health emergency.

According to the report, loneliness and isolation can lead to a significant increase in mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, as well as a nearly 30% increased risk of heart disease, stroke and among older adults, a 50% risk of dementia.

Around the world, there are efforts to help people cope with loneliness. In the Netherlands, one grocery store chain has introduced 'chat checkouts' where customers can take their time and socialize – part of a government initiative to address the growing issue of isolation.

There are also a number of apps, including one called 'NextDoor' to help introduce you to your neighbours anywhere you live in the world.

And a recent story in The Globe and Mail profiled a woman who rents her time out to those needing a dinner companion, a study buddy or a listening ear. She's seen more than 60 clients so far.

Today's episode focuses on loneliness as a silent but potent social determinant of health, the impact of loneliness on the brain, why social media seems to be making us lonelier even as it's meant to connect us and how each of us can learn to exercise our social muscle and improve our overall health.

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts.



Dr. Jaideep Bains  
Dr. Jaideep Bains

Dr. Jaideep Bains is Director of the Krembil Research Institute at UHN, and a Senior Scientist at UHN's Krembil Brain Institute. Dr. Bains is an internationally recognized expert in brain research; for the past two decades, he has led a successful research team at the University of Calgary, making many important discoveries that have provided insights into how the brain adapts to stress. These studies have shed light on links between neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity and brain network states with important behavioural and physiological responses in different models of stress.

Dr. Hayley Hamilton  
Dr. Hayley Hamilton

Dr. Hayley Hamilton is a Senior Scientist and the Associate Director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She is also an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and Co-Director of the Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto.

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