Loneliness is a concept that has been around since the beginning of time, and we all deal with it on a regular basis. It’s something every single one of us deals with from time to time and can occur during life transitions such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a move to a new place. Researchers refer to this kind of loneliness as reactive loneliness.
Loneliness can have a negative impact on general health at any age. It is a significant risk factor for cognitive deficits, several types of anxiety, and depression. When the reward response is not activated, loneliness can alter the brain’s neurochemistry by turning off the dopamine neurons that initiate the reward response, resulting in some brain deterioration.
Causes of loneliness
Situational elements like physical seclusion, relocation, and divorce are loneliness-causing causes. An individual may experience emotions of loneliness as a result of the death of a significant other in their life.
Furthermore, it might be a sign of a mental illness like depression. People with depression frequently retreat socially, which might result in isolation. Loneliness may also contribute to the symptoms of depression, according to research. Internal conflicts such as low self-esteem can also contribute to loneliness. People who lack self-assurance frequently think they are unworthy of other people’s attention or respect, resulting in exclusion and long-term loneliness.
How it affects your physical health
Your physical health may suffer if you’ve been dealing with persistent loneliness. It could result in weight gain, lack of sleep, poor heart health, and a compromised immune system. Additionally, loneliness can put your body under additional stress. More intense stress might impact your memory and problem-solving abilities and raise your blood pressure. It can take a physical toll in numerous ways, such as:
May trigger inflammation
A growing body of research suggests that loneliness can negatively affect hormonal, immunological, cardiovascular, and inflammatory responses. Loneliness has been implicated in everything from increased risk of hypertension and heart disease to a reduced antibody response to the flu vaccine.
May trigger stress
Alongside hormonal effects, psychological stresses can trigger the autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) access, and chronic activation of these systems can exert wear-and-tear effects on the cardiovascular, immune, and metabolic systems.
Loneliness as a mortality risk factor
Loneliness significantly increases the risk of premature death from all causes and is thought to rival the risk posed by smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. The overall odds of mortality due to loneliness are 1.5, which is comparable to light smoking and exceeds the risks posed by obesity on type attention.
These figures have been derived from an analysis of 148 studies across 300 and 8849 individuals over 7.5 years and demonstrated that the effect of loneliness was independent of other risk factors.