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Can we be sick of loneliness?

Loneliness is a feeling that every person walking this earth has experienced at least once in their lives. It is the state of feeling unwanted, uncared for and isolated from everybody. Most of us have experienced loneliness so often that is starting to settle as a common way of life in our minds. We consider the feelings of isolation as an unavoidable and in fact essential part of our growth process.

While social media has made it a point to make sure we are virtually connected to many people; real-life connections are harder than ever to find. In this light, loneliness can no longer be considered just another feeling and should be taken as a serious concern that affects all groups and ages of people around the globe. Apps such as tinder might look like a dating app in the forefront but have contributed greatly in decreasing the percentage of people who feel lonely by making it easier to connect and meet people of similar interests.

There might be various reasons why a person feels lonely, such as due to work or school stress, isolation due to illnesses, emotional break up with a friend or lover, family problems or inability to express one self. Most of the time, people around the lonely person do not even notice that their friend or family member is experiencing loneliness and might be hiding serious concerns such as depression or anxiety. The person experiencing the loneliness can also very seldom understand this feeling and take steps to prevent it from taking a worse course. The taboo across the topic of loneliness has made it harder to talk about it openly. While it is experienced by everyone, some experience it on a lower degree and some on a higher one. Regardless, the issue is so serious now that it cannot be dismissed as something that does not need treatment because everyone experiences it.

Loneliness can have serious effects on the health of the concerned and reports say that loneliness is more deadly than obesity in today’s scene. Lonely people are more like to die twice as prematurely as a result of increased coronary heart disease and stroke risk. Feeling lonely can suppress our immune system by exposing us to various illnesses. Chronic loneliness has been found to be as dangerous as smoking cigarettes and can lead to an increase in our risk of early death by a shocking 14%.

There is a long list of health issues that root from loneliness beside a diminished immune system. Loneliness often disrupts sleep and daytime functioning, affects mental and cognitive functions, elevates blood pressure and releases stress hormone called cortisol in the body. Along with this, studies have found that people who are socially connected have a lowered risk of dementia than lonely people.

Elderly people are more exposed to loneliness than young adults and singles are more affected by loneliness than those in a marriage or a relationship. While single women are four times more likely to be haunted by loneliness, single men are ten times more likely to be affected by the same. This is due to the female nature of depending on friends/families and the male nature of hiding true emotions and dealing with them individually.

Loneliness increases the risk of developing mental issues and can often lead to depression and anxiety, the leading causes of suicides. The number of people or relationships a person has no relation to loneliness and a person can be lonely even when they are with friends or families. It is different from social isolation which means having no contacts. A lonely person has contacts but cannot open up to them about emotions as they feel like others cannot understand their ordeal. Doctors have warned that loneliness must be cured like a disease before it starts affecting the health of individuals at a faster pace.

In an attempt to decrease loneliness, social set ups and meetings can be organized so that the social needs of a person are fulfilled. The governments must start playing an active role in decreasing loneliness to reduce expenses on health care issues caused by loneliness. Families and friends must always look out for each other and make sure that the emotions of all individuals in the groups are validated. This helps to reduce loneliness and the health issues tagging along with it. You can save a life by making a phone call or visiting a friend who seems off. And by saving one life, you can save many others related to it.

Let us know if you have ever felt loneliness or are feeling it right now. Talk to friends and families about loneliness to avoid greater tragedies tomorrow. Comment below.

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Written by Prajita Gupta

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