Guest Post by Dr Mariah Mosley; Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
I am not going to address whether or not ‘social distancing’ will be effective if we don’t do it for the full 18 months1 as some models are claiming, or if it is even truly as effective as they had been previously suggesting. I do want to help people be aware of the very real threat to our health if this dilemma we are in continues. And that threat is loneliness.
This is not a new problem. In fact a couple years ago, Britain actually had to appoint a “Minister for Loneliness” due to the fact that more than 9 million people in the country often or always feel lonely8.
The Dangers of Loneliness
Humans were made to rely on one another. Loneliness, depression, and *social isolation* can contribute to higher mortality rates overall. According to the National Institute on Aging6, research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline7, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
Currently at least 30% of people in our country are suffering with either depression or anxiety.4 My concern is that ongoing social distancing will do more damage to their mental health5.
So what can we do?
- Connect connect connect! Reach out and call friends and family members, especially those who live alone or are already dealing with a mental illness.
- Make sure to reach out for help if you yourself start falling deeper into depression— I promise, you are not the only one.
- Support your immune system the best you can, so we can hopefully all go back to normalcy as soon as humanely possible!
Stay safe and mentally healthy, my friends! There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
- Social Distancing May Need To Last 18 Months, UK Study Finds https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2020/03/17/social-distancing-may-need-to-last-18-months-uk-study-finds/#2b27613915b3
- Does marriage make us happy? https://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/10/marriage
- Marriage and men’s health https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/marriage-and-mens-health
- Facts & Statistics <https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics>
- The Effects of Sense of Belonging, Social Support, Conflict, and Loneliness on Depression https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/00006199-199907000-00004.fulltext
- Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks
- Older adults reporting social isolation or loneliness show poorer cognitive function 4 years later. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23749730
- U.K. Appoints a Minister for Loneliness. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/europe/uk-britain-loneliness.html