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Social Isolation Can Kill You, Study Shows

Socializing with others give us healthier minds and being sick less / Photo by Getty Images

 

Socializing is vital to any human being. Naturally, we are designed to seek out others and connect with each other. This can happen in several ways - from smiling to a random stranger in the street or building a relationship with another person. As humans go on with their lives, socialization becomes critically important. Previous studies found out that people who interact more get sick less and maintain healthier minds. 

However, people will also experience loneliness. Some will tend to isolate themselves in dealing with the problem. Although this seems normal at first, choosing to be alone most of the time linked to a higher risk of death. 

The Importance of Human Connection

Human connection matters. Even though humans live in a busy world where socialization seems a luxury, it is essential to feel what it's truly like to be connected to one another. People naturally seek belongingness because, in one way or another, it satisfies our human needs and also affects us in many ways. For instance, being rejected can have psychological impacts on us.

Studies have shown that ostracism can lead to feeling actual physical pain. According to Psychology Today, loneliness is also detrimental to people's health because it can increase stress hormone levels in the body. As a result, it can compromise the immune system, leads to poor sleep and cognitive decline. 

Additionally, being well-socialized can be a success indicator. Through a connection, humans are able to stand up and speak out. We are building our own character or identity that is important as we age. Socialization is not just about having trivial interactions with others but it's the feeling of being deeply connected and being a valued member of the human race.

According to The Mindful World, it is essential to acknowledge that all life forms are connected in this world. Whatever choices we make can make a positive or negative effect on others. It can potentially change the status quo or transform the world we are living in. 

 

Connecting with others comes in many ways like hugs, holdings hands or shaking hands / Photo by Getty Images

 

Loneliness and Social Isolation

Connecting is a fundamental human need which can happen in many ways. For instance, through body contact such as hugs, holding hands or shaking hands. It can also be through minimal connections where we share our ideas or thoughts with others. People are also into emotional closeness where we develop feelings to another person or the sense of intimacy and falling in love.

However, humans will not always experience bliss and enjoyment. Along with maturing and growing up, comes the downside in life. In fact, AARP's Loneliness Study reported that about 42.6 million adults above 45 years old are suffering from chronic loneliness in the United States alone. In a research entitled  "Social isolation, loneliness could be a greater threat to public health than obesity" presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, the researchers found out that withdrawing yourself from others and extreme sadness can negatively impact someone's health.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Brigham Young University demonstrates how social isolation and loneliness can affect human mortality. She used two meta-analyses in doing this, the first one involved 148 studies while the second has 70 studies. Their first finding showed that 50% of more than 300,000 participants who have a great social connection has a reduced risk of early death. Meanwhile, the second study which was participated by over 3.4 million individuals found out that social isolation, loneliness or living alone have a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death. 

In an article by the Science Daily, Holt-Lunstad said, "There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase the risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators. With an increasingly aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a 'loneliness epidemic.' The challenge we face now is what can be done about it."

Moreover, in a recent study entitled "Social Isolation and Mortality in US Black and White Men and Women," the researchers revealed that death caused by social isolation is heavier than combined heart diseases. In fact, it is also associated with inflammation, hypertension, physical inactivity, smoking, and other health risks.

The researchers led by Kassandra Alcaraz, Ph.D., MPH found out that race seemed to be a stronger predictor of social isolation than sex. In fact, black men and women are more likely to be in the isolated category. They noted that medical innovations, as well as social factors, are essential in clinical care. To address social isolation, one must engage in the interpersonal connection. "Persistent challenges in intervening on modifiable clinical risk factors such as obesity make approaches based on social isolation promising if efficacy can be established," the researchers concluded. 

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