People say that being happy is a choice, but for some people, it is definitely easier said than done. That is because of loneliness. It is a feeling wherein people feel sad and distressed because either by themselves or they just feel disconnected from the world. This feeling may last for a long period of time. Some people think that being lonely means that you’re alone, it is not exactly the case every time, that is because even if you are around people and you communicate with them every day, doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot be lonely anymore, sometimes you may feel as you don’t belong and that is normal.
General Practitioners from the United Kingdom, led by Dr. Helen Stokes-Lampard, wants to encourage her fellow doctors to take notice of the growing number of people in the world who are feeling lonely, because this may actually lead to them dying prematurely, compared to people who are not. They now considered loneliness to be as big as diabetes when it comes to being a cause of death. This is what she told the Royal College Of General Practitioners to call their attention regarding the matter. “Social isolation and loneliness are akin to a chronic long-term condition in terms of the impact they have on our patients’ health and well-being,” she said. “GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and depression, but often their main problem isn’t medical. It is because they’re lonely,” she added.
But how can someone consider themselves as lonely? Here are a couple of signs and reasons that may open up your mind.
REASONS YOU MAY BE LONELY
According to Lifeline Australia, there are a couple of major reasons why a person feels lonely, here are some of them:
• When a person loses a friend or loved one over death or relocation.
• When a person is living by his or herself.
• When a person is having a hard time meeting new people and having the fear of not being liked.
• When a person is self-pitying over poor physical health.
• When a person is diagnosed with depression or has anxiety.
• When a person doesn’t know what to do with their life and their lack of purpose
An organization known as the Campaign End Loneliness is working hard to be able to try and reach the estimated 1 million senior citizens who are suffering from loneliness. According to the campaign director, Laura Alcock-Ferguson, “The health impacts of loneliness can be devastating; it is worse for you than obesity and as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Chronic loneliness is cutting lives short, and the problem is growing.”
LONELINESS IS CONTAGIOUS
Many people are concerned about the fact that the elderly are feeling more and more lonely as they age, but then again, what most people don’t know really notice is that a child or a normal adult can actually feel extreme loneliness as well.
According to the General Social Survey, a large number of Americans consider themselves as lonely and it is increasing every single year, loneliness is known to be contagious. A research was done in 2009 wherein 5000 people from Massachusetts were asked if they are lonely, and 52 percent actually admitted that they feel lonely especially if they know a family or a friend is lonely as well. So people tend to get lonely because they feel the loneliness of others and those who are already lonely feel it even more.
Dr. Nichols Christakis told New York Times that one lonely person could actually “destabilize an entire social network” as if it is a single thread that could unravel a nicely knitted sweater. “If you’re lonely, you transmit loneliness, and then you cut the tie or the other person cuts the tie. But now that person has been affected, and the process to behave the same way. There is this cascade of loneliness that causes a disintegration of the social network,” he explained.
Lonely young adults actually feel more social stress and loneliness. They have significantly higher Epstein-Barr virus antibodies that are the key player to mononucleosis. It was also revealed that loneliness could actually increase the risks of death by 26 percent as well as the risk of dying from heart diseases.