Blog How Loneliness Harms Your Physical And Mental Health

How Loneliness Harms Your Physical And Mental Health

Loneliness is a painful emotion and condition to experience. Humans are social creatures who were not designed to experience loneliness for long.

We evolved to be surrounded by a tribe consisting of friends, family, and partners. Therefore, excessive loneliness goes against our very nature.

However, due to technology, the pandemic, and changing social and familial dynamics, loneliness is more prevalent than ever. It is becoming a widespread societal issue, affecting the mental and physical health of millions of people.

Social connection is required for a happy brain and a healthy body, so we often see a major negative shift in both when we experience chronic loneliness.

Read on to learn more about the effects of loneliness on physical and mental health, as well as how you can treat it.


What Causes Loneliness?

What Causes Loneliness

Though loneliness is most commonly associated with social isolation, the two are not exactly the same. Though being isolated for long periods often does lead to loneliness, the fact is that many factors can cause loneliness.

For instance, life changes can contribute to loneliness. For example, many people feel lonely after experiencing a breakup or moving to a new city.

In these situations, the person may lose most or all of their established relationships and may feel lonely while working to build new ones.

Other major changes that contribute to loneliness are the death of a loved one, shifting of values and interests, and aging.

Furthermore, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by others. This may be due to difficulties connecting with others or not sharing the same interests or values. Loneliness is not cured by the number of relationships but by the quality of them.

Finally, some mental health conditions can contribute to loneliness, especially if they hinder your ability to socialize well with others. Some conditions that do this are social phobias and some anxiety disorders.

1. Mental Health Conditions

Loneliness and mental health exist in a cyclical relationship. If an individual becomes lonely, their mental health declines.

However, a pre-existing mental illness may cause the person to be isolate or have difficulty connecting with others. As mentioned previously, social phobias and anxiety disorders are classic examples of this in action.

Though loneliness is rarely the sole factor that causes mental illnesses, it can be a contributing factor. Furthermore, it often worsens pre-existing conditions as adequate social support is critical for successfully treating many mental illnesses. Some mental health conditions that may develop or worsen from loneliness include:

  • Personality disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Depression
  • Abuse
  • Substance use
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and death by suicide

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7.

2. Physical Health Conditions

Though many people understand the relationship between loneliness and mental health, they may not realize that the former affects their physical health as well.

Once again, loneliness is rarely the primary cause of various health conditions but is a significant contributing factor. Some health conditions that have been worsened or associated with loneliness and isolation include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Lupus
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Impaired immunity
  • Shortened lifespan
  • Sleep disorders

How To Treat Loneliness

How To Treat Loneliness

Ultimately loneliness is treated by creating a solid support network of meaningful connections. However, due to changing social dynamics and technology, traditional opportunities may not be as available as they once were. However, there are many ways to still develop connections. A few of them include:

  • Talking more with coworkers or classmates
  • Taking a class
  • Trying a new hobby
  • Using a dating or friend-finding app
  • Joining a club
  • Joining online chatrooms or forums

However, if you have a mental health condition that makes socializing difficult or struggle with social skills in general, talking with a therapist may help.

They will help you find treatment options for your condition or coach you to develop confidence, self-esteem, and social skills needed to make new friends and connections.

Bottom Line

You certainly aren’t alone in experiencing loneliness. Loneliness is an incredibly painful emotion that is becoming all too familiar in society. What’s worse is that chronic loneliness can lead to various mental health conditions and diseases.

However, with some help from a therapist and some solid effort to socialize, you will be able to create a support network and ease your loneliness.

If you are interested in further reading, you can find more information on loneliness and how to treat it by clicking here.

 Read Also;

0 0 votes
Article Rating