Doing some research on the PHYSICAL impacts of loneliness and I am shocked at the picture that is being formed.
The excerpt below is from an article that shows how gene expression is altered due to loneliness to affect the immune system. Wow.
Remember – loneliness is defined by the individual. That is to say that ‘solitude’ and ‘isolation’ are not the same. In fact, someone can feel the benefits of solitude in the same situation that they can feel isolated (even swinging between the two). The presence of others is not as important as the CONNECTION with others. In ALL research studies, it is the perception of the individual that counts.
“In one study, Cacioppo and Steve Cole of UCLA examined how the immune system changed over time in people who were socially isolated. They observed a change in the kinds of genes that lonely people’s immune systems were expressing. Genes overexpressed in the loneliest individuals included many involved in immune system activation and inflammation. In addition, several key gene sets were underexpressed, including those involved in antiviral responses and antibody production. The result is that a lonely person’s body has let its defenses down to viral and other invaders.
“What we see is a consistent pattern where it looks like human immune cells are programmed with a defensive strategy that gets activated in lonely people,” Cole told LiveScience.”
If you find yourself affected by the issue of long term loneliness and you’d like to chat, I’d love to speak with you. There is no expectation that you will work with me; I provide a listening ear and am ready to share whatever experiences of my own journey into and out of loneliness I can that may help you. Bring a cuppa and let’s chat. Book a chat now.