Are You Feeling Lonely?
Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling of emptiness and solitude experienced by a person. Many people suffer from loneliness, and the feeling of being neglected or unwanted is truly depressing. As Mother Teresa rightly said,
“As far as I am concerned, the greatest suffering is to feel alone, unwanted, unloved. The greatest suffering is also having no one, forgetting what an intimate, truly human relationship is, not knowing what it means to be loved, not having a family or friends. Loneliness is the world’s biggest problem; more people die from loneliness than from cancer, heart disease, and all the plagues that kill people in the world.”
Main Causes of Loneliness
According to research by John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist and one of the top loneliness experts, loneliness is strongly connected to genetics. In addition, there are many other reasons why people feel lonely. Some of the causes of loneliness are:
- Lack of friendship and avoidance of relations during adolescence and childhood
- Physical abilities or mental capabilities do not match those of peers and friends
- Some psychological or social problem that leads to physical isolation
- Stress and depression
- Breakup or divorce or losing a long term relationship
- Death of a very close person or any reason of grief
- Financial loss
- Physical or health problem that is not acceptable socially
Scientifically, loneliness has been categorized into two types:
- Loneliness of Emotional Isolation: This type is associated with those who get separated from their parents and then try to find comfort through romantic partners. This loneliness is also associated with people who feel such emotions when a romantic partner is missing.
- Loneliness of Social Isolation: As the name suggests, this is due to lack of social networks and these people feel that they do not have friends or allies.
The Impact of Loneliness on Your Life Loneliness starts from the initial stage and enters into transient stage. Transient loneliness is temporary and can be easily cured; however, if a person enters into a chronic stage then it becomes very difficult to recover easily and one needs a long term, continuous treatment.
– Chronic Disorders
Loneliness when reached in the chronic stage can become life threatening and serious problem for us. Many studies have been conducted to find out the effects of loneliness, and one study suggests that there is a correlation between cancer risk and loneliness.
– Heart Diseases
Many studies have proved that people, who face chronic loneliness, may suffer a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease. It was found that lonely people had raised levels of a chemical called Interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is directly linked with heart diseases.
– High Blood pressure
A medical study has proved that loneliness can increase blood pressure by 30 points, which is highly dangerous for body parts; especially the heart.
– Poor Sleep Pattern
Lonely people suffer from poor sleep patterns, and their restorative process is diminished. They suffer from laziness and tiredness.
– Suicidal Trends
Research has indicated that people suffering from loneliness often tend to have suicidal feelings or even attempt suicide. Some people develop self-destructing habits and behaviors. This is especially evident in children.
– Schizoid characteristics
This phenomenon makes such people look at the world differently and they are declared insane. They feel alienated from people and indulge themselves in drugs or alcohol abuse.
– Weak Students
A loner child is often poor in studies and has week learning graph and poor memory.
Loneliness Treatments & Prevention
Many branches of sciences including social, medical and psychological sciences have worked to find treatments for loneliness. There are different methods and ways that are suggested to overcome loneliness in its all stages. Some of the common methods are:
1. Therapy: This is a highly successful and common treatment method. Short term therapy is done for 10 to 20 weeks (Duration may vary). This process is good for individual patients as well as groups. Some doctors suggest inclusion of medicine along with therapy for better results.
2. Medication: Some patients can only be treated through medication due to the specific nature of their problem.
3. Alternative Approaches: These alternative treatments may include:
- Electric shock therapy
- Herbal treatment
- Increased social interaction
4. Pet Therapy: Another very less known treatment is through pets. Yes, it has been found that having pets can not only treat loneliness but it can also cause a reduction in blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol.
5. Community Service: People who feel lonely are often advised to go for community service or another activity that they may enjoy. These situations present great opportunities to bring lonely people together with common interests and cultivate new friendships and social interactions.
Loneliness Can Be Contagious
A study by Cacioppo also suggests that loneliness may actually be contagious. In this study, researchers examined how loneliness spreads in social networks over a period of 10 years. The results indicated that people, who stay close to someone experiencing loneliness, were 52% more likely to get into solitary confinement and loneliness. While loneliness is a universal human emotion, this unique and complex feeling can affect your life dramatically. Loneliness can be easily dealt with if you are willing for a change. Try to understand the effects that loneliness has on your life, both physically and mentally and make sure you focus on positive thoughts in your social relationships.