Scientists and researchers are discovering mounting evidence about the negative impact of loneliness and social isolation. One study found that 1 in 5 people suffer from persistent loneliness signifying this is no small problem. Loneliness affects people mentally, emotionally, and even physically.
The medical and physical effects of loneliness can be quite sweeping. Studies have found loneliness can be a contributing factor to heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and can compromise immunity. They also found that lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Being lonely and isolated can increase stress hormones, disrupt sleep, impact energy level, and impair cognitive abilities. All this makes people more susceptible to developing depression and anxiety disorders.
People of all ages can struggle with loneliness, however some age groups are at higher risk. Surprisingly many young people are at risk. Despite having plenty of Facebook friends and Instagram connections, many young people feel lonely. Social media messaging is not a replacement for face to face human contact and/or touch. Having a few close personal friends is probably healthier than hundreds of online social contacts. That said, most studies find that social media can be a great venue to connect with people and try to arrange activities and get together.
As people age they can be at higher risk for becoming isolated and lonely. There are some life events and circumstances that can contribute to loneliness. With an increasingly global economy more people find themselves moving often across state lines for work which displaces them from their social network. Without taking active steps to develop new friends, transplants can feel quite alone. When children graduate high school and head off to college or simply move out, many parents experience the empty nest syndrome which comes with its own loneliness. Some adults in midlife find themselves going through a divorce, which can create isolation. For older adults, they often find that mortality is taking a toll on their social network as they watch old friends die, leaving them lonely and isolated.
There is any number of situations and circumstances that will likely cause most of us to find ourselves at some point in our lives feeling lonely. Left untended, you will be at high risk for negative symptoms to begin developing. Loneliness should serve as a signal to you that you are having a need to connect with people. Whether it is reaching out to old friends, or working to develop a new support system, there is simply no denying that we are engineered to be a social creature. A Harvard study on happiness, found that one of the single greatest predictors of feeling happy in life was having a group of friends to spend time with.
If you want to learn more techniques for improving your social support system, please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.
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