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Does Living Alone Increase Mental Health Risk?

Written and reviewed by
Mphil - Medical & Social Psychology, PHD -Psychology
Psychologist, Surat  •  26 years experience
Does Living Alone Increase Mental Health Risk?

 

People had always known that there is a direct link between psychological ailments and living alone. The loneliness caused by having to live by yourself can trigger a myriad different psychological issue. Now, several studies worldwide have established the link. People of all genders and across the age spectrum were studied over a long period. The results made it clear that it does not matter how young or elderly you are and people of any age can be affected by loneliness. Your sex too is not a factor. Common Mental Disorders are twice as much likely to affect you if you live alone than if you live with others.

These Studies widened their Scope

All along studies to find the link between loneliness and mental ailment were carried out only on senior citizens. Then scientists realized that the results were not conclusive. Several factors made them widen their net – changing patterns in lifestyle, job requirements and rising rates of diagnosis of psychological ailments among people of all age groups made them reconsider their range and scope of their tests.

Now studies were carried out on people irrespective of their sex or gender. Another conclusion scientists drew from their studies were young and unmarried people were again more likely to contract mental ailments than their counterparts who are either married or live with their partners. Similarly, people in the middle age group, who live alone, fare much worse than their counterparts who live with families. Men and women were equally vulnerable to loneliness induced psychological problems.

Mental Illnesses that Living Alone could Trigger

The studies found that people who live on their own are likely to contract these ailments –

Depression

A World Health Organization study discovered that 300 million people around the world suffer depression in various degrees. Women living alone have greater chances of coming down with it than men.

Some of its symptoms are –

• Malaise

• Loss of interest in everything that is happening around

• Finding no purpose in living

• Disrupted sleep patterns

Loss of appetite

Depression can be lethal. If you are living alone or if your loved ones do, then watch out for these symptoms and seek therapy immediately.

• Social Anxiety

People who live alone usually exhibit signs of some sort of anxiety or another. They are averse to mingling with others. The constant sense of dread, a fear of uncertainty and an overwhelming feeling of being out-of-tune with life around them make them lose faith in themselves. This may interfere with their daily activities. It could also prompt a panic attack, social anxiety disorders or certain phobias.

• Substance Abuse

These studies also discovered that if you have people around you whose love and positivity uplift you, or if there is stability in your life, you are unlikely to turn to alcoholism or drugs. Living alone makes people unhappy. Drugs initiate the dopamine secretion, a hormone that induces a feeling of happiness. When dopamine flows through your system, it vanquishes feelings of loneliness and pain. But this is a temporary release and the feeling of bliss abates as soon as the drugs are flushed out of our bodies. That is why they will take the drugs repeatedly and eventually this becomes an addiction.

• Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder OCD is not very common but it is the fallout of living alone. This actually goes on in circles. Loneliness triggers OCD and those with this condition are given a wide berth by people which magnifies their loneliness and makes their psychological condition even worse.

Living alone is a terrible psychological health hazard. Most often, it can have a disastrous impact on anyone’s psyche. So think it through before you make your decision of being on your own.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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