Loneliness is difficult for everyone regardless of the situation, but the current pandemic has definitely amplified it. In a time of isolation and distancing, it’s difficult to not feel alone. Unfortunately, loneliness can have an impact on health as well.
The Impact of Loneliness on Health
Loneliness has the potential to exacerbate or even create health problems. According to a study conducted by the Brunel University London and University of Surrey, social isolation has a connection to inflammation. While they did note that more research is necessary, they concluded that there is a link between these two things.
Diving even further into research on loneliness, the University of Chicago found that it triggers changes in gene expression. Their research found that leukocytes are affected, and that there is an increase in the activity of the genes that deal with inflammation. This was paired with a decrease in the genes that are responsible for antiviral activity.
Loneliness and Preexisting Conditions
During this time, it is important to check on those who have preexisting conditions as loneliness can have a very large impact on them. In fact, Alzheimer’s Australia reported that those with dementia and their caregivers and loved ones experience significant loneliness in comparison to the general public. The current pandemic has only isolated these people even more.
Loneliness also heavily impacts those affected by substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has said that those with addiction are hit “particularly hard” due to social distancing and isolation. Their increased loneliness may drive them to turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope. Reach out to those around you and make sure they are okay.
Loneliness and Mental Health
Stress comes hand in hand with the pandemic, as people are worried about everything from their health to their work. Unfortunately, loneliness can make handling stress even more difficult. The CDC has released a statement regarding the stress that COVID-19 has brought and they emphasize the importance of finding healthy ways to manage it. Understand that everyone responds in their own way to stress and find the best way to take care of yourself.
Lancet found that quarantine has a psychological impact, causing symptoms of irritability, fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, and indecisiveness. It is important to recognize these symptoms within yourself and their cause in order to come to terms with them and work to improve them.
Those working in the healthcare field right now, such as doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other front-line workers, also feel an intense psychological impact. In fact, a study conducted by Lancet found that they can experience PTSD. Reach out to them, show your gratitude, and provide help if you can.
This pandemic can cause loneliness and other issues, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. These times will not last forever and things will get better.
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