There are many things that can trigger social isolation. Sometimes it’s the trauma that comes after facing the death of a loved one, sometimes it’s the feeling of hopelessness we experience after getting a divorce and ending our relationship. Other times it’s the state of complete despair after losing a job, or learning to live with disability after an accident. All these things can sometimes lead the person to isolate themselves from social events, and society in general, which can be dangerous for the person’s physical as well as mental health. If you or someone else is dealing with a crisis in their life, have a look at some of the causes, impacts and remedies that will help you or your loved one get through that difficult period.
Causes of social isolation
Usually defined as having little or no contact with other people at all, social isolation is different from loneliness. Loneliness is about feeling general dissatisfaction with our social connections, while social isolation does not always include feelings of loneliness, especially in cases of voluntary social isolation. In addition, the state of loneliness can be temporary, while social isolation can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several years in more severe cases.
There are many causes for social isolation that can make people feel ostracized by the society and those around them. While there are people who detach from the society on their own, involuntary social isolation often happens to be the case. People who are suffering from physical disabilities and illnesses often experience a shift in their relations with others, which often results in the affected individual pulling away from others. Those who are close to them may also begin to spend less time with the person who is affected, especially if the person is suffering from conditions such as AIDS.
Advanced age is another cause that may lead to social isolation. With the decline of our health as well as our mobility, we’re bound to experience some changes concerning our lifestyle as well as our roles in the society. Last but not least, disabilities such as developmental delays and neurological disorders can also result in social isolation, due to underdeveloped social skills.
Impacts of social isolation
Social isolation is a problem that affects us psychologically, and in more severe cases can even have debilitating effects on our mental health. According to recent studies, prolonged social isolation results in a wide range of behavioral changes – from aggressiveness and fear to increased sensitivity when exposed to threatening stimuli. The researchers used mice to showcase the negative impact that social isolation can have on living beings, and the extensive study yielded results as well as implications that can help us understand the effects of social isolation as well as the stress as a behavioral response to social isolation.
The likelihood of an adult experiencing social isolation increases as you get older, and even though it’s a problem that receives relatively little attention, it is considered a public health epidemic that affects one in five adults over 65. When the signs of social isolation aren’t spotted on time, it can become a serious hazard to both our physical and mental health.
Some researchers claim that prolonged social isolation poses the same health risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or being obese. Sleep disturbance, depressive symptoms, as well as fatigue are behavioral symptoms connected to prolonged social isolation, and occur in both subjective and objective social isolation.
Remedies for social isolation
A problem of epidemic proportions, social isolation affects people from all walks of life. However, it undermines the health and well-being of a significantly higher amount of older adults, making this demographic group more likely to suffer from isolation-related issues.
Social isolation is often overlooked, hiding in plain sight without is noticing it. However, this problem is very much real, and according to some researchers, we might just be in the midst of loneliness epidemic. With so many negative effects that social isolation brings, it’s is of crucial importance to find a way to battle this serious problem. Try fostering a more social lifestyle – join a book club for readers of all ages to help foster discussion on different topics.
Volunteering for a worthy cause is another great way to reconnect with others, while getting a pet will ensure you have a loyal companion with you at all times. And if you’re someone who is eager to help others, support them, and aid them in overcoming obstacles, consider enrolling in aged care courses. Fulfilling and rewarding, this career choice is perfect for someone who is compassionate and genuinely cares for others, and these courses will give you a chance to turn your caring nature into qualities necessary for excelling in this field.
Communication is an integral part of human nature. The need for interaction with others is deeply rooted into our being, and during the times of stress and despair, communication with others may help us overcome the difficulties we’re going through and shift our focus on all of the positive things we have going on in our lives. If you or someone you know is going through a rough patch at the time, try to find a way to resolve the issue in order to bring the much-needed positive change.