Apr 11, 2024 - News

Solo living is on the rise, but so is loneliness

Share of people who experienced feelings of depression, by living arrangement
Data: National Health Interview Survey; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Living alone is linked to higher rates of self-reported depression than living with others, according to data released recently from a 2021 National Health Interview Survey.

Why it matters: New insights showing that the loneliness epidemic has become a major threat to Americans' well-being coincide with a rise in people living alone, writes Axios' Carly Mallenbaum.

By the numbers: 16% of U.S. adults lived alone in 2021, and 6.4% of them reported depression, compared to 4.1% of those who live with others. The trend held true for both men and women, across most race and Hispanic-origin groups and by family income, according to the CDC.

  • Adults who say they live alone and rarely or never receive emotional or social support were almost twice as likely to say they have feelings of depression, compared to those who never or rarely receive support but live with others.
Share of renters who live alone by metro area, 2022
Data: Census Bureau; Map: Erin Davis and Alice Feng/Axios

Zoom in: In the Indianapolis metro area, 21.4% of renters lived alone in 2022, compared with 17.6% nationally, census data shows.

  • That's up from 2018, when 18.6% of renters in the Indy area lived solo.

The intrigue: The average age of a single renter in Indianapolis is 47 — a particularly high-risk age group for reporting depressive feelings while living alone, according to National Health Interview Survey data.

  • In the 45–64 age group, 9% of people who lived alone compared to 4% of people who lived with others reported depressive feelings.

What they're saying: "It's not that living alone is bad for you, [but] there's something about living with another person that can create a little bit of a push to do habits that can improve your mood," says psychologist and "Stress Resets" author Jenny Taitz.

  • For example, you might keep your home cleaner, put on fresh clothes more often and make regular small talk.

Yes, but: If you do live and/or work by yourself, Taitz recommends being mindful about your habits and how often you're talking to others.


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