Loneliness and Mental Health

Even though in today’s world, communication has never been better. We can send texts, email and make calls worldwide in a matter of seconds. And with the popularization of smartphones, we can do this no matter where we are in the world. But it is a sad fact that loneliness is becoming an epidemic among the elderly and for those who suffer from mental health issues. Loneliness and mental health are closely tied together, in this article, we will examine how loneliness and mental health can affect a person and how to fight against it.

Defining Loneliness

A Sad Looking BearWe all think that someone is lonely when they are isolated and are not socializing with others. This can be the case, but it can also be a falsehood. A lot of people often feel lonely even if they have huge circles of friends, and they socialize regularly.

There be something in their life that they feel is lacking, for example, they may not have a partner or a good friend, this can cause loneliness. If the person suffers from mental health issues the loneliness can be felt at any time and anywhere.

So the definition is not quite as straightforward as you might first think.

A Vicious Circle

Evidence as always been available in the medical world proving that loneliness can cause mental health issues in anyone. It is mostly in the media about the elderly having memory problems and early onset dementia due to the lack of interaction in their lives.

Likewise, this can occur with people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, the need to be solitary and not interact causes the loneliness, and thus this feeds the mental health issue. Loneliness and mental health can easily be linked and become a vicious circle. But this is not publicized so much.

Know Thy Neighbor

Front DoorsIn recent studies, it was shown that most people no longer know who lives next door. And in a study in America, it was shown that neighbors are more likely to know their neighbor’s pets better than the actual people.

One major way to help reduce loneliness in the elderly is to get to know your neighbor. Just by saying hello and maybe offering them to come around for a cup of tea is a great idea, it will also encourage interaction.

This small gesture can help.

However, if someone you live next door to is suffering from mental health issues it is a little more complex. You can still say hi, but don’t force yourself upon them. Trying to socialize with them may cause more issues and increase the person’s anxiety. A good way is to try to speak to a visitor and get relatives contact details.

This may seem a little intrusive but can help alert your neighbor’s relatives or career of a possible issue.

It’s Good To Talk

You may see symptoms of loneliness, depression or anxiety in your friends and colleagues. Sometimes just talking to them can help, but don’t go in head first and ask if they have an issue. That method is likely to put the barriers up. You will find small talk can lead to more. If you build trust with someone you are doing two things, you are making a friend and you are giving them the green light to open up.

When you get to the point that you can see you are good friends, you can now approach the subject.

It’s great having friends to talk too, but always remember that you should always be trustworthy and never discuss this with others. It can cause irreversible damage to that person, make them go more in on themselves and increase the feelings of loneliness.

What If?

Two hands reaching out to each otherWhat if you get to know someone and you find that they are planning to harm themselves, or they are showing the signs of self-harm what should you do?

A big no-no is an act shocked. This will possibly put the person off and shut you out. Unless you have a close relationship you can address the issue directly, especially if the scars are visible.

Try to keep an open mind and find out how it helps them. You can also ask if they are practicing safe self-harm. A lot of people who self-harm do it for release, and it becomes a norm to them. So showing you accept that is a good way to help the person.

If you feel that the self-harm is very bad and detrimental to the person you do need to act, contacting the emergency services is the main port of call. They will assess the person on physical and mental health and act accordingly.

Loneliness And Mental Health

In this article, I have tried to cover how closely mental health and loneliness is. It does affect people in very different ways and trying to overcome the issue is very much an uphill struggle.

I feel that in today’s society with an aging population and the increase in mental health issues a kind word and getting to know your friends and neighbors can go a long way.

I hope you found this article an interesting read. Please let me know what you think, or if you have any comments enter them below. I am always happy to answer your questions and will always respond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Hi Darrin, it has become such an epidemic our society. It is so sad how even in my own family my grandmother was put into a home. Not because she wanted to, but because there is no room for old people. I would much rather see our children go and hang out with their grandparents and learn from them. They have already been here for such a long time. If they haven’t been pumped with drugs and can still think for themselves it is of such great value for both parties. I remember the face on my grandma when she was holding her grandson. The glow in her eyes.

    I see it with my dad now, having lost his wife and now he is drinking his sorrows away. No friends and no more will to live. It really hurts to see that. I really hope there can be more of a way to connect with the elderly. Maybe even through the modern technology.
    thanks

    • Thank you for sharing your open and frank comments. I so agree with what you say, older people have much knowledge and have spent many years looking after us. So why not return the favor, many people lack respect for their elders. It’s a sad world indeed.

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