Breakups are hard, but they appear to be particularly hard on men. Men who have more than a couple of romantic breakups and live alone for several years often experience more than just feelings of unhappiness. Their mental and physical health may suffer so much that they’re at greater risk for death, a recent study shows.

A research team from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark came to this conclusion after analyzing the health data of over 1400 women and over 3000 men. The Danish participants’ ages ranged between 48 to 62.

In the aftermath of a breakup, women didn’t have the same high levels of inflammation and other health issues men did.

The big issue could be loneliness. It is closely associated with physical ailments like pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety. And as a result, it is also associated with the use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen benzodiazepines, like valium; and antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids, as well as the likelihood of a senior taking multiple medications.

The researchers looked at how many breakups each participant had experienced in their life and how many years they had lived alone. The team also factored in participants’ histories of chronic disease, their Body Mass Index (BMI), family health histories and their education levels. People who had lived alone for less than a year were placed in the control group.

Women who experienced breakups or lived alone didn’t have the same high levels of inflammation and other health issues.

Men were a different story. The researchers found men had more inflammation after a breakup. Their inflammation levels on their blood tests were 17 percent higher overall. Inflammation contributes to a higher risk of developing certain diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It also makes aging bones weaker. Men’s physical response to heartache and the loss of relationships appeared to put them at risk of serious illness and even early death.

Women’s social connections appear to be one reason they tend to fare better. In the aftermath of a breakup, women are more likely to turn to friendships to ease loneliness.

This is a big help. “Men at the ages studied tend to have smaller social networks than women, so they are more likely to suffer from loneliness, which may increase the chance of disease,” Rikke Lund, one of the authors of the study and a professor at the University of Copenhagen, explained in a statement; “and there is evidence that men who live alone man not take care of themselves and are more reluctant to consult a doctor if they have health problems.”

Whether you are a man or a woman, loneliness likely to have a bad effect on your overall wellbeing. Here are some ways to stay in the social loop:

  • Find an activity that you enjoy, restart an old hobby, or take an exercise or other class to learn something new. You might meet people with similar interests.
  • Schedule time each day to stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors in person, by email, social media, voice call or text.
  • Consider adopting a pet if you are physically and financially able to care for them. Animals can be a source of comfort and may also lower stress and blood pressure.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Find a faith-based organization where you can deepen your spirituality and engage with others in activities and events.
  • Volunteer and get involved helping others in your community.

The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.