From The British Psychological Society/Research Digest: “Participants completed a six-item scale that measured feelings of ‘social loneliness’ (focusing on perceptions of the quantity of one’s social relationships) and ’emotional loneliness’ (which focused on perceptions of the quality of one’s relationships). They also completed questionnaires assessing levels of childhood and adult trauma, depression and anxiety, and their psychological wellbeing.
… ‘[The] results indicate that while the experience of social loneliness is associated with slight diminutions in overall mental health, relative to the low loneliness class, the experience of emotional loneliness has a substantially greater, and more negative impact on overall mental health status,’ the researchers write. ‘The combination of social and emotional loneliness is associated with the poorest mental health status,’ they note.
People who belonged to the emotional loneliness class were more likely to be female, younger than average for the group, not in a relationship and to have suffered an increased number of childhood traumas. (Every childhood traumatic experience increased the odds of belonging to the emotional loneliness class by 28 per cent.) The same associations were true for the ‘social and emotional’ loneliness class – except they were also characterised by a greater number of adult traumas.”