Sometimes life throws you certain situations and you decide to break away everyone. Voluntary solitude is good and beneficial.
Every once in a while, we need some alone time to internalize and reflect. But when it is imposed, it can lead to certain problems.
In this modern age where we are engrossed in virtual realities and networks, keeping in touch has become more and more difficult.
According to Psychology Today, friendship is like food. We need it to survive. Psychologists find that human beings have a fundamental need for inclusion in group life and close relationships. In short, we are social beings. Evidence from studies has been growing that when our need for social relationships is not met, we fall apart mentally and even physically. There are effects on the brain and on the body. A lack of close people in your life and a wide dearth of social contact can lead to feelings of emotional distress.
Read on to find out the side effects of loneliness. Chronic loneliness can interfere with normal brain functions and increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like dementia especially on the aged. Those who rarely get visits from their loved ones and live in isolation have a 60% chance of contracting mental illnesses.
- You exhibit depression like symptoms. When you’re lonely, brain hormones associated with stress such as cortisol become active and they can cause depression. This raises levels of circulating stress hormones and levels of blood pressure. It undermines regulation of the circulatory system so that the heart muscle works harder and the blood vessels are subject to damage by blood flow turbulence.
- Lonely individuals experience overexpression leading to serious health problems and a low immune system. One is at risk of long term inflammation and damage to the tissues and blood vessels which may lead to heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases.
- Research shows that lonely people struggle to fall asleep. The anxiety and chronic depression makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This in turn leads to insomnia and other sleeping disorders.
- While many may not take it seriously, people who live unaccompanied are likely to suffer from heart related causes leading to death. Those on the extreme may fantasize about suicide and eventually take their own lives.
- You stop taking care of yourself. Now that you have no one to impress and ‘live for,’ lonely people stop caring about their physical appearance and eat less healthy food.
What to do about it?
Good news is, loneliness is not a fact but a feeling which can be changed. Reach out to others especially loved ones and reconnect.
If it has something to do with heartbreak or a loss, good deeds like volunteering, visiting the aged in a home or orphans, will elevate your mood as you make new friends.
The last thing you need is to medicate and cover up your pain to get away from feeling lonely. Go out and make friends or reach out to those who love you.