The Mental Effects of Loneliness


In part one of the loneliness series we start to look at the effects loneliness can have on individuals. We looked at the difference between loneliness and being alone. In this article, we will touch on the mental effects of loneliness on men.


Mental Effects of Loneliness

Loneliness is an emotion that nearly everyone experiences at one point in their life. It is the feeling of disconnectedness or isolation that makes it extremely hard to communicate with others.


While feelings of loneliness tend to fade once an individual starts to once again interact with others, periods of chronic loneliness are typically more long-lasting and have a serious negative impact on overall mental health. What follows is a few of the mind-related effects that can crop up due to chronic loneliness.


Stress

Prolonged periods of loneliness have been shown to increase the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Having high levels of cortisol in your blood for long periods of time can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and depression. Even worse, this anxiety can cause you to shy away from getting out there and hanging out with people, which keeps you from getting rid of the loneliness.


Poor Sleep Quality

It can be hard to fall asleep when you’re feeling lonely. Dwelling on feelings of isolation makes it difficult to clear your head so that you can get a restful night’s sleep. Not only that, the high cortisol levels associated with chronic loneliness also make it hard for us to fall asleep and stay asleep.


Substance Abuse

Instances of alcoholism or substance abuse are common in people who suffer from chronic loneliness. This may be due to the fact that people turn to these substances when they feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to. And, while drinking may make you forget that you feel lonely for a time, it doesn’t actually address the factors which make you feel lonely.


Negative Self-Image

Feeling lonely can have a major impact on the way that you view yourself. It's easy to think poorly of yourself when it seems like you're all alone in the world. You may even feel like you’re doing something wrong, or that your loneliness is your fault somehow. Not only can these self-defeating thoughts further your anxiety and depression, they may also keep you from having positive interactions in the future.


Feeling Withdrawn

One of the most troubling effects of chronic loneliness is that it oftentimes makes you feel withdrawn and like you don’t want to make a connection with other people. This means that even if someone who is feeling lonely were to have a conversation with a friend or a family member, they may not open up like they normally would. It prevents them from forming the connections that they need to feel that they're not alone.


Because loneliness is such a common feeling, many people underestimate the negative impact that chronic loneliness can have on a person mentally and emotionally. If you think that you’re feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Men’s groups are becoming more popular. They’re a safe place to share things that are going on in your life without feeling shame or being embarrassed.


I know it can be difficult to overcome loneliness by yourself. But, with the help of your friends and family, you can start taking steps toward feeling less isolated and bringing more social interaction to your life.


In the next article, we look at the physical effects loneliness can wreak on our bodies.


Stay strong my brother!


Alain Dumonceaux

Founder, The Awakened Man



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