5 serious health issues that can be triggered by loneliness

By, New Delhi
Mar 21, 2023 04:31 PM IST

Are you a loner? Expert says not socialising enough or loneliness can put you at risk of these deadly diseases.

Being socially isolated or feeling lonely can trigger a range of diseases as experts say that mental health and physical health are interrelated. According to studies loneliness can lead to premature death from all causes, a risk that is also associated with smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. This means if you are lonely, it may make you suseptible to heart disease, depression, anxiety, diabetes and hypertension among a host of other health problems. (Also read: Want to reduce loneliness? Engage in meaningful activities, say researchers)

Loneliness can be a causal effect and symptom to many of diseases(Unsplash)
Loneliness can be a causal effect and symptom to many of diseases(Unsplash)

People may get lonely as they age but many young people too can feel isolated in absence of a social network, being an introvert or due to a disease or disability. Overcoming loneliness is possible even for people who do not like to make many friends. Engaging self in some meaningful work, hobby or goal can help one feel less lonely. One can try to build social connections through volunteering, joining a club or group, reaching out to friends or family, practicing self-care, and seeking professional support if needed.

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"Loneliness can be a causal effect and symptom of many of diseases. Mental health and physical health are two sides of the same coin. Many patients visiting hospitals are due to psychosomatization. It means that there are no physical issues or damages but more of psychological component involved in it. Loneliness can be caused due to 4 major concerns - social, emotional, situational and chronic," says Dr Rucha Shrikhande, Consultant Psychologist at Ruby Hall Clinic.

Dr Shrikhande says the common causes of loneliness are due to financial problems, being alone while developing or growing up years, death of a loved one, failure and the feeling that you are good for nothing.

Here are 5 health issues one can develop due to loneliness:

1. Dysthymia or persistent depression

This is one of the major disorder which could be caused by loneliness. A person suffering from this is most of the times wants to be kept alone, though its not a physical disease. Dysthymia is a chronic mental health condition and gradually leads to diminishing confidence and self-worth of a person.

2. Social anxiety/social isolation or anxiety disorder

People with social anxiety disorder may have trouble interacting with people as it may cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment. In such a case, people deliberately choose to isolate themselves from meeting up people in social as well as personal set ups.

3. Chronic diseases

High blood pressure, hypertension, heart attack, obesity and related physical issues are commonly found in people who remain socially isolated. 29% of heart conditions or diseases and a 32% increased rate of stroke is also noted in researches.

4. Cancer

Biologists have shown that feelings of loneliness trigger the release of hormonal changes due to stress, causing low resistance to illnesses and a risk of cancer.

5. Diabetes

The risk of type 2 diabetes is often high in people who are overweight or have severe lifestyle issues like inactivity. Stress and loneliness can exacerbate chances of diabetes.

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