Chronic loneliness not just emotionally painful, it also increases the risk of developing a number of disorders including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, cognitive decline, and metastatic cancer. According to a recent article from The Guardian, scientists are working on treating loneliness with a pill. Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Lab at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, is leading the charge on loneliness research and believes she is on to something.
Loneliness is linked to the decrease of a neurosteroid called pregnenolone, which improves stress-related disorders and calms the hyper-vigilance in the brain caused by social threats. The goal of the pill isn’t to eliminate loneliness entirely, but to alter the way it affects the brain and body. A study from last summer examined the effects that 400mg oral doses of pregnenolone had on lonely but otherwise healthy people. Cacioppo and her team are still analyzing the data, but they’re “cautiously optimistic” that the results will show significantly reduced perceived loneliness.