Social Isolation Leads to Loneliness, Depression, and Illness

Social Isolation Leads to Loneliness, Depression, and Illness

Social isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and illness.  And it can have a direct impact on your longevity.

In early 2020, billions of people around the world were forced to isolate, quarantine, and socially distance themselves from others due to Covid-19.  Even though the world is now reopening, isolation is still a problem for many people.  In fact, millions of people live in isolation every day.  The elderly, perhaps, are most susceptible to this problem.  Due to age, immobility or limited mobility, and the fact that many of their friends and loved ones have passed on, the elderly live in isolation more than any other age group.

But isolation does not always result in loneliness.  Some people, particularly introverts, prefer being alone.  They tend to be more aware of their thoughts and are recharged in their solitude.  But for those people who are not used to being alone, especially for prolonged periods of time, loneliness sets in, and depression results.  Feelings of loneliness and depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.  This has an ill effect on the human psyche and can affect one’s health and longevity.  Negative thinking and thoughts of suicide can become inescapable.



It is important to note here that depression is a medical condition that requires medical treatment for some.  This article is not about that type of illness, nor is it intended to be a replacement for any medical treatment.  This article is about changing negative thoughts and behaviors, particularly for those people who have become socially isolated.

You do not have to live in isolation to feel lonely and depressed.  It is possible to be in a crowd of people and still feel alone and lonely.  But whether you are physically alone or feel alone in the world, there are things you can do to alter your feelings about it.  Your negative thoughts and emotions can be changed to positive ones.  Changing your state of mind requires you to become active, either physically or mentally.  It may not be possible for some people to be physically active, but it is never impossible to be mentally active.  The mind is active every moment of the day and night.


What you can do

There are many ways to become physically or mentally active.  Social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, are invaluable tools for connecting with people.  You can learn something new in an online course or meetup group.  You can use Zoom, FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger to see and chat with your friends and loved ones, and delight in seeing their faces and hearing their laughter in real-time.

You can read a book, write a letter, or dance to your favorite music.  Exercise in place, play a musical instrument, or cook your favorite meal.  Do arts and crafts, paint or draw, or simply call a friend.

Reach out to your community.  Become a leader, sponsor, volunteer, or advocate of a worthy cause.  Start a drive, read to kids, help the elderly, or visit your local animal shelter.

And if you need more ideas… take a walk in a park or a drive along a scenic route.  Go to a library or museum, or get a new pet.  The list goes on and on.  Just by becoming active, physically or mentally, you are taking your mind off your negative thoughts and feelings and making yourself feel better.  And by doing things and thinking about things that make you happy, you are creating long-lasting memories.  This can change your whole perception of life.


How you can help

Isolation leads to unrest in the mind. The negative thoughts and emotions that are a result can wreak havoc with the mind and body and can cause any physical illness.  Such as, heart disease, cancer, headaches, backaches, gastrointestinal problems, and other ailments that can cause long-term pain, discomfort, and even death.

There is a long list above of the many things you can do to help yourself to alleviate the feelings of loneliness and depression, and to refocus your negative thoughts and feelings to positive ones.  But what about the elderly, the informed, or the disabled who cannot do these things for themselves?

If you know or meet someone in your travels who cannot get out due to age, immobility, or illness, you can help them in very meaningful ways. Befriend them.  Talk to them.   Read to them or play cards with them.  Teach them something new, or have them teach you something new.  Take them shopping, for a walk, or just for a ride.  Visit nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, or a local hospital.  You could be saving a life and enriching your own.


When In Crisis

If you are feeling hopeless and full of despair, don’t do anything drastic.  Instead, call a friend, family member, or even a hotline number.  If you’re in immediate need of help, call 911.  Help is available.

You will find three hotline numbers to the left of your computer screen or at the bottom of your mobile phone.  Please use them if you need help or just need to talk to someone.


God Bless,
L.M. Lush


Supporting Articles:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions
American Psychological Association:  The Risks of Social Isolation
Mayo Clinic: Positive Thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress

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