Negative Effects Of Loneliness On A Person’s Physical And Mental Health

Loneliness has gradually become more prevalent today than it has in the past. Loneliness is harmful to have because of the negative health effects, how hard it is to overcome and how loneliness has no boundaries. It is time to become aware of what loneliness can do to an individual, what someone can do to destroy the feelings of loneliness and who can be affected by it.

Loneliness has shown to have negative side effects to physical and mental health. It has shown a connection to increased blood pressure, weight gain, diminished immunity and many more, which overall affects the quality of one's life. In some cases, loneliness has declined the “ability and motivation to perform daily activities, such as bathing, grooming and preparing meals”. Some people even “lose their interest in eating. . . ” which ultimately leads to eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa which can branch to many other negative effects which will dramatically affect their health. Most people with feelings of loneliness gain weight because they do not often go out with family or friends, making themselves spend more time alone. When loneliness diminishes immunity, an individual is less likely to fight off bacteria and viruses. It would be extremely hard to remain healthy and if a serious disease is caught, there would be a possibility to never recover, resulting in permanent damage or mortality. It has been proven that, “loneliness has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which makes it even more dangerous than obesity”. Humans need socialization to survive, so when socialization is not very present in one’s life, it can have negative impacts on their mental health. Commonly, individuals that feel lonely are also clinically depressed. Depression is linked with dementia, insufficient sleep, disrupted thoughts and many more. Being alone with disrupted thoughts is dangerous because it could possibly lead to suicide attempts. Shockingly, researchers have recently seen a connection with loneliness and Alzheimer's disease. Scientists are “suggesting that loneliness may be a preclinical sign for Alzheimer's. . . ”. From side effects like diminished immunity and depression, loneliness is extremely unhealthy for anyone. Loneliness is undeniably a silent killer.

Once someone has feelings of being lonely, it is hard to overcome those feelings. Most people who feel lonely try to resolve their problems by either surrounding themselves with others, finding connections through social media, or taking medications for other disorders and possibly more. To feel lonely, someone does not necessarily need to be alone. In some cases, “people can feel lonely even when surrounded by lots of people, especially if the relationships are not emotionally rewarding”. This makes it a lot more difficult for the lonely individual to understand why they are having such feelings of being lonely. This causes the person to no longer want to try to fix their problems, leaving them to remain lonely. “People may compensate by finding connections online, that can provide a false sense of relief”. This type of socialization is just through social media and often leads to people shunning face to face interactions and staying home, cooped up in a bed with their cellphones. Nurse experts say “social media can be a double-edged sword, online communities can provide a lifeline to some people experiencing loneliness”. Besides that, there is unfortunately no medications for loneliness, but individuals can take medications for the negative health effects that come along with loneliness like depression, anxiety and insomnia. Taking the medications can dramatically make loneliness less alarming to an individual's health. Although medications can help, “people who are lonely and isolated are less likely to take their medications correctly…”. However, there are small things people can do to possibly defeat the feelings of loneliness, like “taking a class, getting a dog, doing volunteer work and joining a senior center”. Loneliness is a very hard battle to defeat that takes time, patients and certainly the help of others.

Loneliness has been seen in any person and can be shaped in many different ways. It can be seen “no matter their age, geographical location, or background”. Loneliness has been seen at almost any age, from adolescents to old age. In some studies, research has shown that a large amount of young people feel lonely and isolated and one of the culprits may be social media. “Humans live in a very different social world than the one humans evolved for…people have many more social relationships, but most of them are more transient. Transient relationships are temporary, so after many relationships have broken, people can become victim to the feelings of loneliness and possibly stop looking for new connections. Although this may be a reason as to why teenagers are more seen to be lonely, a survey found that “young people with the highest rates of social media use that reported feelings of loneliness. . . were very similar to the feelings of people who barely use social media”. Loneliness can also be shaped by where an individual lives. It is argued that living in a rural area can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely because of the, “sparsely populated regions, long distances,. . . lacking infrastructure, particularly lack of transportation options which…all interferes with social participation”. Once again, this may possibly be correct but “urban/rural differences in social isolation and loneliness have been inconsistent”. Essentially, no matter where an individual lives, they too can have the feelings of loneliness. Countless number of personal characteristics can increase the chances of becoming lonely. For instance, “old age, being single or widowed, living alone, having less education, or having low income/ financial strains”. It is difficult to pinpoint who exactly loneliness can affect, but as of what scientists know so far, loneliness can affect anyone.

In summary, loneliness is without a doubt dangerous and threatening. People that feel lonely are more prone to have physical and mental illnesses, it is difficult to destroy loneliness entirely, and hard to understand who it can affect. Considering this information and becoming aware of what loneliness can do to an individual, it is now time to assist those who show signs of loneliness.

10 October 2020
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