Wanting human interaction but feeling alone is a state of mind associated with loneliness. It is possible for someone to feel lonely even when they are alone themselves or to interact with others and yet feel alone. In a recent Meta-Gallup study, young individuals between the ages of 19 and 29 reported feeling the loneliest—24 per cent of respondents aged 15 and older said they felt extremely or moderately lonely.
Types of Loneliness:
A. Emotional isolation
It is the lack of significant connections. It can be experienced when you feel that no one is available to talk to about something going on in your life, even when you need someone to talk to. You may experience loneliness for the person who has left your life if your heart has been shattered.
B. Social loneliness
A ‘perceived shortfall in the quality of social connections’ is social loneliness. If you don’t think you and your partner have any friends in common, take a beginner’s salsa, foxtrot, or rhumba dancing lesson. Join forces to perform voluntary work, such as constructing homes, stuffing envelopes, or bringing food to the sick and disabled.
C. Existential loneliness
A ‘sense of essential separateness from others and the greater universe’ is known as existential loneliness. Building and maintaining a strong support network is the long-term answer to emotional isolation. While finding a “soulmate” or creating an “instant friendship” is impossible, you can increase the likelihood of strengthening a friendship by interacting with friends and being open to suggesting get-togethers or meet-ups.
Health hazards associated with Loneliness:
Loneliness can have many harmful effects on your physical and emotional health. Health hazards linked to general social isolation as well as social isolation in youth, middle age, and old age comprising:
- Misuse of alcohol and drugs
- Modified brain activity
- Alzheimer’s disease development
- Antisocial conduct
- Stroke and cardiovascular disease
- Reduced learning and memory
- Suicide and sadness
- elevated levels of stress
- Making poor decisions
Strategies to Avoid and Get Rid of Loneliness:
You can get over being alone. Making a change does need intentional effort. Over time, implementing changes can lead to increased happiness, improved health, and the ability to positively influence those around you. Here are a few strategies to avoid being alone:
- Think about volunteering: engaging in another enjoyable activity, these circumstances offer fantastic chances to socialize, make new acquaintances, and meet new people.
- Assume the Best: Those who are lonely frequently anticipate rejection; try concentrating on having positive attitudes and thoughts in your social interactions instead.
- Focus on Enduring Pure Connections: One should always look forward to building strong connections. Always look for someone with similar traits so that it will help them build strong connections.
- Talk to Someone You Can Trust: Understandably, it’s difficult to talk or chat with someone about your feelings, you can either talk with a family member or a trustworthy friend. You can also consult a therapist to make yourself feel better.
Impact on Mental Health:
1. Physical Illness
Chronic stress brought on by loneliness may result in mild peripheral inflammation. Consequently, inflammatory disorders have been connected to low-grade peripheral inflammation. Diabetes, autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular conditions like hypertension and coronary heart disease are examples of inflammatory diseases (HTN) Low-grade peripheral inflammation has been associated with many cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis. Numerous research has demonstrated the connection between loneliness and physiological ageing, cancer, obesity, impaired hearing, and poor health.
2. Personality disorder
Schizoid personality disorder and borderline personality disorder are two of the several conditions linked to loneliness. Ignorance of isolation is thought to be a fundamental characteristic of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Moreover, loneliness exacerbates other BPD symptoms. The Need for Time Alone, Signaling the Need, Development of the Capacity to be Alone, The Holding Environment, and Internal Representation are the main theories of aloneness in BPD. Numerous theorists of psychoanalysis have proposed that emotional deprivation is a crucial factor in the emergence of schizoid personality disorder. Attachment distortion has been linked to a lack of contentment in interpersonal relationships as a result of emotional deprivation and an inability to achieve stability.
3. Stress and Immune system
Chronic stress as well as acute stress can be caused by loneliness. Researchers have recently conducted extensive studies on the psychosocial consequences of stress on the immune and neuroendocrine systems. It’s arguable whether loneliness counts as stress. Nonetheless, a wealth of research suggests that loneliness affects the immune system. There is evidence linking loneliness to compromised cellular immunity, as seen by increased antibody titers and decreased activity of natural killer (NK) cells. Furthermore, it has been discovered that middle-aged persons who experience loneliness have lesser increases in NK cell counts in response to acute stress brought on by different tasks.
Lonely people may feel alone and cut off from other people. It’s a complicated mental state that personality features, mental health issues, low self-esteem, and life transitions can bring on. Serious health effects of loneliness can also include physical issues and a decline in emotional well-being. Being alone or lacking in significant relationships can lead to feelings of loneliness, which is a complicated human emotion. Being ‘alone’ is not the same as being lonely. On the other hand, in today’s era, many people can still exist in a world where many people can live alone and not feel lonely which means they cannot come under the category of loneliness.