Loneliness is a feeling that pretty much all of us will have experienced at some point in our lives. For many, it’s a passing stage but there are a variety of reasons why someone might feel lonely. For example, someone who feels lonely because they didn’t make a lot of friends when they were a child may have a vastly different experience to someone who has just lost a long-term partner. Nevertheless, there are many health implications of loneliness and isolation across the board.
What is loneliness?
The word loneliness can mean something different for each person. Generally, people are talking about isolation when they refer to loneliness, but it is possible to feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by lots of people. For this reason, loneliness and isolation are inherently linked with mental health.
What are the effects of loneliness and isolation?
One of the biggest issues of isolation is the increased risk of a person becoming depressed. In turn, this can lead to anxiety and low self-esteem which, while awful to experience on their own accord, can make people want to isolate themselves even more. It’s a cycle that can keep someone in a constant state of poor mental health that can be difficult to get out of without help.
Isolation can also lead to low energy in the daytime which can have a negative effect on how a person performs in work-related tasks. In turn, this also tends to lead to issues with sleep as the person either struggles to get to sleep, wakes up frequently, or alternatively finds themself sleeping far more than necessary. Again, there is a looped nature with this that can be difficult to break free from.
When someone feels isolated and is suffering from poor mental health, they can struggle with low self-esteem which makes them behave in ways they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t. For example, mental health issues can lead to negative feelings such as worthlessness and hopelessness. When this occurs, many people stop caring about themselves properly and can find themselves eating poorly which can lead to obesity or malnutrition.
Likewise, poor mental health can lead to people looking for ways to deal with isolation that tend to have further negative effects. Increased consumption of alcohol, prescribed medication, or other drugs only serve to exacerbate the problems.
Isolation is a major concern when it comes to mental health issues. If you’re struggling to deal with feelings of isolation or loneliness, then it is important to try to resolve it. Speaking to your doctor is always a good idea if you’re suffering with poor mental health but you can also try to reconnect with old friends and family, find new hobbies that involve other people, get out and about to try to make some new friends, or even find yourself a companion in the form of a pet. There are always ways to improve your mental health, but the most important part is taking the first step to deal with the issues that are holding you back.