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The Psychological, Emotional & Physical Effects of Isolation & Loneliness

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Hi Everyone, 

During this unprecedented, disheartening and challenging time time of globally fighting a pandemic, practicing social distancing, struggling to maintain economic and business continuity, there are a great deal of emotions felt by all across this planet. 

This distancing strategy is purposeful to save lives, flatten the curve and eliminate this infection and the stress on our health care system and our economy. And gradually in many regions, it’s proving to work. 

For many people, this ongoing stretch at home might be a time for contemplation, relaxation, re-evaluation, reorganization, deeper connection with your family members and other housemates and greater health and well-being all the way around. 

If you are living with others where there’s strained, uncomfortable or dysfunctional relationships, this can trigger frustration, irritability, sadness, helplessness and a sense of feeling trapped. 

For countless other people across the world, and especially for those that live alone, this social (and physical) distancing from other humans, can be quite distressing on many levels – psychologically, emotionally and physically. 

While this mandate to stay at home is temporary, the effects of loneliness can range from mild to severe. For many this feeling of loneliness has been chronic with struggling over many years due to life’s circumstances. Or it can become chronic and problematic in the event that this pandemic, social distancing and working from home (or sustained unemployment) continues for a longer period of time. 

One thing to keep in mind is that a sense of isolation and loneliness is relative, based on many factors along with each person’s individualized perception. 

For example, you can live with or be around other people (family, colleagues, friends, roommates) and still feel lonely. And yet you can live alone or be alone at any point in your life and be perfectly content without feeling lonely. 

A sense of loneliness and isolation can adversely affect the human body, mind and spirit in more ways than you might realize. Not only is it extremely unhealthy, it can be dangerous and hazardous to your health, well-being and longevity. 

We are humans. We are meant to connect, collaborate, create community, create a tribe and develop deep loving bonds with each other. When that is interrupted or deficient for a longer period of time, that’s when the body and brain suffer. 

Albeit, loneliness and isolation may be temporary for some, but this is a very universal and relevant topic (especially in the last decade) and it needs more emphasis and awareness for change to occur. 

Listed below are several signs, symptoms and effects of isolation and a sense of loneliness: 

  1. Depression 

  2. Anxiety and or panic attacks

  3. Feeling hopeless

  4. Sadness and/or crying 

  5. Anger and irritability 

  6. Lack of focus

  7. Low energy: physical and mental fatigue 

  8. Diminished ambition and drive 

  9. Sympathetic nervous system “fight or flight” response: sense of fear or threat 

  10. Mood swings

  11. Hormone imbalance: low/high cortisol, pms, worsening PMS, skipping periods, menopause symptoms, lower testosterone