Social isolation is both a potential cause and a symptom of emotional or psychological challenges. As a cause, the perceived inability to interact with the world and others can create an escalating pattern of these challenges. As a symptom, periods of isolation can be chronic or episodic, depending upon any cyclical changes in mood, especially in the case of clinical depression.
Every day aspects of this type of deep-rooted social isolation can mean:
- staying home for days or even weeks at a time due to lack of access to social situations rather than a desire to be alone;
- both not contacting, and not being contacted by, any acquaintances, even peripherally; for example, never being called by anybody on the telephone and never having anyone visit one’s residence;
- a lack of meaningful, extended relationships, and especially close intimacy (both emotional and physical).
The following risk factors contribute to reasons why individuals distance themselves from society.
- Domestic violence – perpetrator uses social isolation as a means of controlling their victim.
- Health and disabilities – People may be embarrassed by their disabilities or health issues such that they have a tendency to isolate themselves to avoid social interaction out of fear that they would be judged or stigmatised.
- Loss of a spouse – Once a spouse has died, the other person may feel lonely and depressed.
- Living alone.
- Aging – Once a person reaches an age where issues such as cognitive impairments and disabilities arise, they are unable to go out and socialise.
- Transport issues – If the person doesn’t have transport to attend gatherings or to simply get out of the house, they have no choice but to stay home all day which can lead to those feelings of depression.
- Societal adversity – Desire to avoid the discomfort, dangers, and responsibilities arising from being among people. This can happen if other people are sometimes, or often, rude, hostile, critical or judgmental, crude, or otherwise unpleasant. The person would just prefer to be alone to avoid the hassles and hardships of dealing with people. There are some cases when not even seeing the sun long enough each day will affect them; by the time they try to go out and play, heart attacks and heat strokes are more common.
Social, psychological and medical research has now demonstrated conclusively that there is a direct correlation between the degree to which a person feels connected to others and their physical and mental health. Here are some of the most commonly known effects of NOT feeling a connection to others:
- Generally decreased feeling of vitality, less energy and feeling tired more often.
- Greater likelihood of chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.
- More frequent bouts of sickness, such as colds or flu, and longer recovery times.
Longer recovery times from injury.
- Regular feelings of loneliness.
- Increased likelihood of depression.
- Decreased level of happiness and satisfaction with life in general.
- Shorter life spans.
So if you find yourself having one of the above signs, go confide in your friends and get out of the house. It will do you some good and change your life. We are not alone.