Causes of loneliness, what it does to our mental health and ways to treat it

The UK Mental Health Awareness Week, which started on 9 May and lasts until 15 May, discusses the topic of loneliness and its implications for human health.

According to the British Mental Health Foundation, one in four adults feels lonely several times or all the time and there is no specific reason behind this feeling, nor is there a solution on the horizon to address this problem, and the longer the period loneliness, the individual is exposed to more health and mental problems, according to confirmed studies.

Professor Peter Fonagh, CEO of the National Center for Children and Families in the UK, asks in a report published on the website Psychologist specializing in psychological issues in the UK, what is loneliness and why does it hurt people? Why are social ties and society the key to life? And what does all this mean for policy and practice in the mental health of children and young people?

loneliness is a scary feeling

According to Funagh in the report, about 10 percent of the population feels lonely at any given time, while the elderly are at high risk of social isolation and loneliness, and consequently poor mental and physical health. In addition, loneliness often affects children and young people, as studies show that young people in their teenage years have a great ability to build relationships and friendships, but at the same time they suffer in certain periods of loneliness and do not there is a clear reason for this.

During the isolation imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, young people aged 11 and 16 who reported higher levels of loneliness were experiencing mental health problems. Primary school children who lack social cohesion, and children who do not have access to the Internet, have also been shown to have emotional problems. A separate survey of the effects of the Corona virus, which included 55,000 people, showed higher levels of loneliness in younger adults and was strongly linked to mental health concerns.

The prevalence of loneliness varies with age, but at all ages it is associated with mental health problems. In one study, it was associated with at least 90 percent more depression and 20 percent more anxiety.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Charlotte Khalil, agrees with the results of these statistics and confirms in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that loneliness is one of the most common issues in psychiatry, because its effects affect the mental health of the individual and society, and do not only affect the person who feels it but lies in its surroundings. According to Khalil, the causes of loneliness are varied, including depression and a highly pessimistic view of a person, leading to many thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

What unit?

According to the British Mental Health Foundation, loneliness is defined as a state of mind associated with the desire for human contact. People may be alone and not feel lonely, or they may connect with people and still experience feelings of isolation.

According to psychologist Dr. Charlotte Khalil, the factors that contribute to the increase of loneliness are numerous, but in the first place include variables of the situation, such as physical isolation, moving to a new place, divorce and separation, in addition to death.

Loneliness can also be attributed to internal factors, such as low self-esteem, Khalil claims. Sometimes people who lack self-confidence believe that they do not deserve the attention or respect of others, which can lead to isolation and loneliness.

negative effects

Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on physical and mental health, according to a report by the very good Mental Health website in New York City, USA. These effects are manifested in the possibility of brain dysfunction, the development of Alzheimer’s disease. in addition to the possibility of cardiovascular disease.and stroke.

These are not the only areas where loneliness affects. For example, adults who experience loneliness do less exercise than those who do not experience loneliness. Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of specific cell processes deep in the body, exposing lonely people to premature aging.

Possible treatment methods

According to Dr. Khalil, lonely people can be helped, as friends and family can play a role in combating their loneliness. Statistics show that loneliness is becoming more prevalent, especially among the younger generations. According to a US survey published in 2019, 25 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 27 reported that they had no close friends, while 22 percent said they had no friends at all.

In addition, Khalil believes that hiring a psychologist is an important stage in treating loneliness.

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