Features of loneliness

Scientists from Brigham Young University say that soon we will have an epidemic of loneliness. You can be lonely, having a family, work and friends. Psychologists call solitude exclusion from the real world due to the lack of contacts with other people. If someone cannot talk about his thoughts, lives with people he does not love, and goes to unwanted work, he also feels lonely. Is it good or bad? There is no single answer. This is part of human life, and, according to Maslow, the need that is necessary for self-actualization of the individual. Without it, self-knowledge is impossible. But if loneliness is prolonged, the natural needs of a person are not satisfied, that is, he does not feel that he is understood, recognized, he does not feel in demand, it becomes dangerous for a person.

What is dangerous loneliness

Man is not fit to live alone. A scientist from the University of Chicago, John Kachioppo, believes that we are so much alive with a sense of loneliness, because we have developed a special mechanism in the process of evolution. Once, in order to survive, people had to unite. So it was easier to escape from wild animals and get food. If someone was expelled from the group, he quickly died. And, despite the fact that now loneliness is not so dangerous for a person, this need for others remains in him, as an adaptation mechanism.

The unpleasant consequences of loneliness include:
  1. We suffer from loneliness as well as physical pain. In 2003, a study was conducted, which was led by Naomi Eisenberg, Ph.D., University of California. It helped prove that a person experiencing a feeling of rejection activates the same parts of the brain as with physical pain.
  2. Increased cortisol levels. It was found that for those who feel lonely, the level of cortisol (stress hormone) is elevated in the morning, and does not completely subside at night. Cortisol can suppress inflammation. But when the level of cortisol is constantly high, the receptors of a person lose sensitivity to it, because of which inflammatory processes can be activated.
  3. Increases the likelihood of heart disease. This could prove the researchers from York University and Newcastle school. If a person is isolated from others or he feels lonely, the risk of developing heart and vascular diseases rises by a third. 23 studies were analyzed, about 180 thousand people took part in them. Those who suffered from loneliness were 29% more likely to suffer from coronary disease, and the likelihood of developing a stroke increased by 32%. If a person already has heart disease or there is a high probability of its development, survival rate increases, provided that the patient is surrounded by friends and family. For the study gathered 45 thousand people with this diagnosis. It was found that loners risk dying from heart attacks for 4 years, while family people, those who have many friends, live longer.
  4. Insomnia appears. Louise Hockley, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, found that lonely people fall asleep longer, constantly waking up at night, their sleep becomes disturbing. She believes that these violations are due to feelings of insecurity. In 2011, a study was conducted that proved the link between loneliness and insomnia.
  5. Loneliness can trigger cancer. It was found that among single people, the death rate from oncology is 15% higher. Scientists believe that this may be due to a violation of the production of several important hormones, because of which there is a cancer. This was observed by researchers in gray rats when animals were rejected separately from their relatives.
  6. Increases the likelihood of senile dementia. In 2012, a study was conducted that showed that loneliness increases the risk of developing dementia by 64%. A total of 2,200 Amsterdam residents aged 65 to 86 years were examined. They did not live in nursing homes and did not have any abnormalities. Half of them lived alone, and 20% admitted that they feel lonely. However, scientists do not exclude that it was not loneliness that led to dementia, but, on the contrary, because of the approaching changes, people changed their character and mood, which caused isolation. According to the results of another study, it turns out that committed bachelors are 42% more likely to suffer from dementia after 65 years than those who lived with their spouse or a regular partner.
  7. Loneliness shortens life. In 2014, scientists were able to establish that in older people, if they are alone, the probability of dying ahead of time increases by 14%. Researchers at the University of Chicago and the California School of Education are confident that this is due to the fact that when the feeling of loneliness appears, the human immune system weakens. Because of this, chronic diseases develop that can cause premature death. The body of people suffering from loneliness, all their strength directs to combat the resulting stress, because of what he does not have the strength to cope with the attacks of pathogens. To prove this, scientists conducted a study. They collected 141 volunteers, they were between fifty and sixty-eight years old. After that, they studied how their genes work in leukocytes. It turned out that for those who complain about loneliness, those genes that must cope with inflammation begin to work more actively in leukocytes, and those that are responsible for the destruction of viruses, on the contrary, are passive. This confirmed the fact that the organism of lonely people is more defenseless and vulnerable.
As we see, loneliness harms our health. And its influence is underestimated. Now from lonely suffer from 20 to 40% of the adult population of the West. There is a widespread stereotype that only elderly people can be lonely. According to air force surveys, about 27% of people under the age of 40 said that they constantly or quite often feel lonely. But the most lonely were, oddly enough, young people aged 16-24. Among them, 40% are single. Scientists believe that this is due to the fact that a person leaves home to learn, and remains without a familiar environment. So the problem of loneliness is relevant and applies to almost everyone. And this problem needs to be solved.

How to get rid of loneliness

Universal advice can not be. We are all different, and each has its own reason for the appearance of this feeling. It is advisable to work with an experienced psychologist, find out your strengths and weaknesses, and identify the causes of loneliness. The specialist will tell you how you can survive the psychological trauma (divorce, separation from the mother and loved ones, etc.), to cope with their fears and anxieties. What else can be done:
  1. Work on your communication skills, sign up for public speaking courses, personal growth trainings, etc.
  2. Try to expand your horizons. Think about your interests, hobbies, start communicating with like-minded people.
  3. Always be yourself. To get closer to another person, it is better to get to know him, you need to go through constructive criticism, sometimes it is worth expressing dissatisfaction, discussing your problems and needs. But at the same time it is important to respect the worldview of another person; one should not impose his own vision of the world on him.
  4. If unsuccessful meetings with other people happened, write down all your actions, because of which, as you think, you have encountered problems. Another time, try to act differently to get the desired result.
  5. Make a list of people with whom you would like to maintain a relationship. Call them every week to talk or arrange a meeting. As soon as you make a call, put a tick in front of this name.
  6. Get a kitten, puppy or other pet. He will have to be taken to the clinic, where you will communicate with people. In addition, the love of animals can also unite, because with someone you need to discuss their habits, funny behavior.
  7. Become a volunteer. This is a great way to make new friends. And the realization that you are doing a good deed will help improve self-esteem.
If once loneliness for a person was equivalent to death, now we are not so dependent on other people. But the nature of a person is not so easy to change, therefore a person isolated from others suffers greatly. However, it is in his power to influence the situation, since he is not alone, thousands of people also dream of meeting those who are close in spirit, with whom they can talk, go to the movies or take a walk in the park. It is necessary to take only the first step in order to establish contacts, and not to expect that everything will settle down by itself.
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About the author

Шакирова Лилия

I am forty years old. I love books, especially English classics, animals. I bring up a child with my husband, a daughter. I'm sure that everything in this world is ultimately arranged correctly.

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