By Flutterbydee
6 years ago

Loneliness and How It Affects Your Health

What is Loneliness?
This article discusses how loneliness can have a negative impact on your life.
The Oxford English Dictionary says, 'loneliness' or 'being lonely', is
"sadness because one has no friends or company".
This should not be confused with 'being alone' which just means there is nobody else with you at the moment.
Should loneliness be a familiar feeling to you, please read this article.

Times in Your Life When You Might Feel Lonely:

Severe Illness
Some people desert you when you've had a severe illness like cancer, stroke or a mental disorder to name but a few.
This desertion is often because they don't know what to say to you. They are afraid of saying something that will upset you or themselves. They don't intend to be unkind and would be horrified to know how lonely they have made you feel.
They may keep away because they are afraid you might die and don't think they could handle it if this happened. This is all about them. They are probably more worried about themselves than you.
Some people stay away because they can't stand to see you suffering and, of course, some don't care about you and want to move on with their own lives.
All this rejection can make you feel very lonely especially as you have the sadness of suffering a serious illness.

Break Up With a Partner
People who were friends with you when you were half of a couple often take sides when partners break up. At best they ignore one party and at worst it can get quite nasty. A man I know was ostracized by his Church community when he had a divorce. He was already lonely form splitting with his partner so became suicidal from loneliness when his friends ignored him as well.
People who were your friend before you had a partner may not want to renew your friendship once you are by yourself again. They may remember feeling rejected by you when you spent more time with your significant other and less time with them. Rejection is a feeling you never forget and don't want to repeat so people may be reluctant to get close to you again.
Anyone breaking up with a partner may feel very isolated, which, in turn, leads to loneliness.

Starting a New School or Job and Moving to a new Location
This type of loneliness is something I have suffered from several times in my life. Knowing it would happen has never stopped me moving on but I've often felt like walking out of the new place when I was in an unfamiliar environment.
Forging new relationships can take time so loneliness often takes a hold.
People may feel very lonely in unfamiliar situations having to deal with people who they don't know or relate to. For me perseverance was the answer. After about six weeks I was settled in the new place and didn't feel lonely any more.

Retirement is a shock to some people's system. A life without colleagues, without the stimulation of work and without the pleasure of knowing your contribution is so important that someone pays you for it, is an overnight bombshell for many.
Retirement can result in an empty life, boredom and feeling superfluous to society. Confidence can be destroyed and low self esteem manifests. Extra time on your hands makes it's easy to feel lonely when you are in this state of mind.

Old Age
Old people, especially those aged over 75 who live alone, may not be able to go out so may not have a meaningful conversation with anyone for weeks at a time.This can cause loneliness. Some are so lonely that they make up reasons to visit their GP or phone for an ambulance when they don't need one.
'NHS Choices' advise on their website:
"Someone who is lonely probably also finds it hard to reach out. There is a stigma surrounding loneliness, and older people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride." (
People suffering from loneliness in this way can feel that life is no longer worth living.
Some old people feel lonely even when they have company. They may feel conversations between others are going over their heads. Many topics of conversation may be about things that are confusing and alien to them. The fact that nobody takes time to speak directly to the old person adds to their isolation. This, in turn, magnifies their loneliness.

Home Sickness
Home sickness can make you lonely too when it is often caused by feeling you are an outsider.
Of course going home can cure it but it is important to remember that home sickness is likely to pass once you become accustomed to the different culture of the new place.

Becoming a Widow or a Widower
This type of loneliness is much more than missing the company of your spouse. There is often deep grief to deal with, financial changes to sort out and a terrible feeling of isolation.
For many people it gets no better with the passage of time.

Loneliness and Health

Mental Health Can Suffer If You Are Lonely
Mental Health and loneliness are deeply connected. It is sometimes thought that one can make the other worse.
Judith Shulevitz, a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, tells us:
"Among (psychiatric) analysts, Fromm-Reichmann, who had come to the United States from Germany to escape Hitler, was known for insisting that no patient was too sick to be healed through trust and intimacy. She figured that loneliness lay at the heart of nearly all mental illness and that the lonely person was just about the most terrifying spectacle in the world. She once chastised her fellow therapists for withdrawing from emotionally unreachable patients rather than risk being contaminated by them. The uncanny specter of loneliness “touches on our own possibility of loneliness,” she said. “We evade it and feel guilty.” (
Mental Health Disorder is an illness that often causes people to desert you. The loneliness this causes may make sufferers depressed by a feeling of rejection, confused as to why they have been deserted when they are ill and may make them turn to drugs and alcohol to make themselves feel better. People with this kind of loneliness benefit from professional help.

Physical Health Can Suffer If You Are Lonely
Here are some of the physical diseases that may develop or worsen if you are lonely: high blood pressure, degenerative diseases of the nervous system, over eating and many more, some life threatening.
Paula Spencer Scott, author, says:
"Good for you if you exercise, watch your weight, and don't smoke -- but if you live in lonely solitude, your health may suffer anyway. Social isolation is increasingly seen as a health threat independent of physical condition. And yes, it's harmful enough to kill you.
Loneliness can wreck the body like a physical stress. Scientists believe that feeling disconnected and alone may trigger damaging inflammation and immune-system changes. Loneliness has also been shown to speed up the heart-health changes of aging.
How bad is it? A 2010 Brigham Young University review of studies involving more than 300,000 people concluded that loneliness is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. In a 2012 Archives of Internal Medicine study, older adults who described themselves as lonely had a 56 percent higher risk of developing functional decline (such as losing the ability to walk or climb stairs). They had a 45 percent increased risk of dying."(

In Conclusion
My next article will offer suggestions about how to deal with loneliness if you are a sufferer. Look out for 'Loneliness and How to Cope With It'

6 years
LAFFINGKNOME Loneliness is not good but being surrounded by the wrong people isn't good either!
6 years
6 years
Flutterbydee Yeah, that's awful :(
6 years
5 years
NyishaHv Great article, Flutterbye I really like it!
5 years
5 years
Flutterbydee Thanks Nyisha :)
5 years
5 years
Deepizzaguy Thank you for sharing this blog on this site.
5 years
4 years
annie07 So true. Loneliness damage a person in my ways.
4 years