Loneliness affects people of all ages, backgrounds, and social statuses, and is detrimental to the individual’s mental and physical well-being
New Delhi: Dealing with feelings of always being alone can be devastating for a person’s mental as well as physical health. Not getting enough support from family or friends can lead you to isolation, and disconnect, leading to a major concern, according to the World Health Organisation.
The leading health body has declared loneliness a global health concern and has set up a Commission on Social Connection, to address and work on preventing loneliness in individuals.
According to the report, staying solitary can have dangerous repercussions – leading to diseases like stroke, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
“High rates of social isolation and loneliness around the world have serious consequences for health and well-being. People without enough strong social connections are at higher risk of stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression, suicide, and more,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remarked.
Loneliness affects people of all ages, backgrounds, and social statuses, and is detrimental to the individual’s mental and physical well-being, according to experts.
Ghebreyesus said the Commission on Social Connection aims to not just elevate loneliness as a global public health priority but would also propose a global agenda on social connection.
Co-chaired by US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and African Union Youth Envoy Chido Mpemba, the commission seeks to demonstrate how personal connections and relationships can enhance the well-being of individuals and communities alike.
According to studies, loneliness is linked to a 50 per cent higher risk of dementia and a 30 per cent higher risk of coronary artery disease or stroke in older adults.
It also impacts the life of youngsters with 5-15 per cent of adolescents experiencing loneliness. Statistics say in Africa, 12.7 per cent of adolescents grapple with loneliness, compared to 5.3 per cent in Europe.
What does loneliness do to people?
According to experts, loneliness, or a state of solitude is a state of mind, that causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. Those who are alone often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with others.
Factors that lead to loneliness according to experts include moving to a new place, the end of relationships, or the death of an important person. Also, it can be a symptom of a psychological disorder like depression and anxiety. Mostly those who suffer from depression withdraw socially, leading to more isolation in their lives.
Loneliness is also often attributed to factors like low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Serious health implications of loneliness
A wide range of negative effects that loneliness has on your physical and mental health include:
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Altered brain function
- Alzheimer's or dementia
- Antisocial behavior
- Cardiovascular disease
- Depression and feelings of suicide
Ways to deal with loneliness
In the longer run, experts believe it is always best to get help and get over the feelings of being alone for better physical and mental health. A few things you can do to overcome loneliness are:
- Be an active community member as it would provide you with one of the best opportunities to meet new people and increase social interactions.
- Be positive and forget rejection by focusing on positive thoughts and attitudes
- Develop quality relationships with those who share similar interests and values
- Recognize that loneliness is a sign that something needs to change and take baby steps towards that
- Join an exercise group as it would make you meet more people with similar interests and help you keep fit as well
- Improve your existing relationships with people
- Talk to someone you can trust
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