Some of us like being in a crowd while others might prefer to be alone. Loneliness is not about staying or being alone, it is about feeling a disconnect even when you are surrounded by people. Being lonely, however, is not healthy at all and leads to many problems both physically and mentally.
Man is a social animal after all. It is important to be around people to lead a normal, healthy and happy life than to suffer from blood pressure, sleeplessness, eating disorders and even addiction issues. Simple steps taken by us can go a long way in keeping loneliness away.1
Side Effects Of Being Lonely
1. Affects The Immune System
Being lonely has an impact on our health and one of the first things to be affected will be our immune system. Researchers say that being lonely leads to experiencing daily life routines itself as being more stressful, which may cause chronic stress, which in turn disrupts our immune system. This will bring down our body’s capacity to fight sickness in the long run as it weakens our body’s defense system.2
2. Causes Unhealthy Eating
When you are lonely, it shows in your eating habits. Most of the time, it is associated with undereating leading to weight loss. But in many cases loneliness leads to binging on food too – especially junk food and sweets leading to obesity, and health issues related to it.3
Bad eating habits are the most common thing to hit you when you are lonely. You begin to eat more and start taking in more junk food which is easier to consume, tastier and feels like comfort food at that time. You will also tend to neglect your workouts, leading to weight gain. This, in turn, leads to other health issues. Lonely or not you always need to watch what you are eating.
3. Leads To Substance Abuse
Loneliness was linked to substance abuse in many research cases. Lonely people resort to drinking when they are unhappy and in despair. It usually begins as social drinking, but might lead to addiction too. Drinking and drugs give a false effect of feeling better. Smoking is another habit that might creep up to you when you are depressed. It does not help in any way to smoke, it only harms you and others around you.4
4. Affects Your Heart Health
Loneliness leads to elevated stress levels and bad lifestyle habits which in turn take a toll on your heart health. A chain of health conditions will be triggered like obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, improper food habits, irregular sleep, and increased stress levels.5
5. Causes Long Periods Of Depression
You feel sad when you are lonely for longer periods of time, and when you are sad you begin to get depressed. Depression can take over your mind and your body and you begin to move towards sleeplessness, lack of appetite and increased stress, which in turn leads to other physical problems. If you feel depressed, it is best to seek out a counselor. Help is available and you can get better.6
6. Leads To Insomnia
You might find it difficult to sleep when you are lonely and depressed. Sleep is generally in small, short spells. You also take longer to sleep and wake up more often. lonely people also complain of more sleepiness during the day. Disturbed sleep is very bad for the health. It can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and even obesity. You need a good night’s sleep to be healthy.7
We all feel lonely every now or then. If loneliness is becoming a pattern in your life, it is worth evaluating why and finding the right help for ourselves. If you are an elderly person experiencing loneliness, talk to your family or a support group about this.
|↑1||Loneliness, Stress and Well-Being: A Helper’s Guide, Kupshik.G A P, Routledge. M. Murphy, 2006.|
|↑2||How loneliness can impact the immune system. Stanford University Department Of Medicine.|
|↑3, ↑4, ↑7||Anderson. B. Norman. Encyclopedia of Health and Behavior. SAGE, 2004.|
|↑5||Anisman Hymie. Stress and Your Health: From Vulnerability to Resilience. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.|
|↑6||S. Chandra, Pustak Mahal. Hale And Hearty Ever After Fifty.2001.|