Social Isolation is a complete lack of contact, between an individual and society. It is different from loneliness and can be an issue for anybody of any age. All types of social isolation can include staying home for lengthy periods of time. Having no communication with family and friends, avoiding contact with friends and staying home for days or weeks. It can be a chronic condition affecting all aspects of a person’s life it can make someone feel lonely and they may fear contact with others. It can cause negative self-esteem middle age people are often socially isolated because their family members have moved away. These individuals have a 30% risk of dying in the next 7 years.
Effects of social isolation
Social isolation affects communities especially if it involves the elderly who are in their 80’s and 90’s often they are put into nursing homes if they show severe symptoms of social isolation.
Social isolation is both a potential cause and a symptom of emotional or psychological challenges. The perceived inability to interact to the world. And others create an escalating pattern of these challenges can be chronic or episodic. This can depend on cyclical changes in mood especially in clinical depression. When a person is depressed they may find reclusive behavior enjoyable, or comfortable. Depression and loneness can often cause cause fear of people. People have negative self-image.
People who are socially isolated, may realize that their behavior is not considered normal. This can make one feel there is a whole world that they are not part of and they do not feel they belong.
People who are socially isolated, often turn to substance misuse. Especially people who live alone.
Social isolation, can often begin in early life for example if a child is bullied during their development they may become preoccupied with feelings and thoughts about their individuality and feel shame and guilt.
New technologies for example the internet or social media can exacerbate social isolation. It is debated amongst sociologists, that people who are socially isolated often become involved with social media activities, as this does not require real world or physical interaction. People with learning difficulties, and learning impairments may have trouble with social interaction and experience feelings of isolation.
The elderly face a whole different set of dynamics, increasing frailty, decline in health and retirement. Other factors such as loss of a spouse means one loses their primary support. Widows who keep in contact with relatives, have better psychological health. Studies have shown that widows who had a lot of social contact, have had fewer depressive symptoms.
Other factors that influence social isolation
- Domestic abuse the perpetrator uses control tactics, to control the spouse so they lose contact with friend’s family.
- Unemployment often results in social isolation and difficulty in finding work often cuts people off from society.
- Aging and cognitive impairment.
How can people with social isolation be helped?
- Sometimes just something as simple as a phone call can give someone the opportunity to chat to someone.
- Community activities such as book clubs, local faith groups
- Volunteering is a good way to meet people and socialize.
Below are some organizations that may be of help
Remember there is lots of support out there, it is just a matter of taking that step. If you feel socially isolated it might be worth talking to your GP.
Good luck xxx.
Claudette is a passionate campaigner and activist for mental health stigma and domestic abuse. She believes that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their disability or gender. She has diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Claudette has a certificate in Management studies. Her interests include beauty, makeup, animals politics, current affairs and social networking.