Does social isolation adversely affect health? Social is the term which is best suited for human being. Because they want companionship or like to stay together for may reason such as company, help, recreation, behavioral development etc. Social isolation is the physical separation of a human from a society of a group of people. Jacqueline old outlined the reason for social isolation in modern and developed countries as people want to be independent and do not want to bother friends, family members or neighbors which make them alone.
From ancient time human are social and dependent on others who are relative or neighbor for interaction and helping the counterpart. Due to this social behavior of human they develop different relationships among themselves like friends, spouse, fiancee etc. This essay will argue that when a human is separated from his society it will adversely affect his physical, mental and behavioral patterns. The first adverse effect of social isolation on human being is on physical health.
House et al 1988 found and described by Cacioppo and Hawkley 2003 that “the consequence of social isolation are particularly strong among some of the fastest growing segments of the population: the elderly, the poor and minorities such as African Americans”. Cacioppo and Hawkley 2003 explained the relationship between social isolation and physical health condition. According to them socially active and connected individuals are healthier and more physically sound and intelligent than socially isolated individuals.
This is also evident from the examples of diseases developed from social Isolation. It has been reported by Arthur 2006 that social isolation is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular risk. Arthur and Mookadam found in their study that lack of social support leads to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, it has been argued by Cacippo and Hawkley 2003 that the contributing factors to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease are smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and sedentary life styles.
They also commented that it is not yet well understood the risk factor of social isolation on cardiovascular disease. The impact of loneliness on physical health can also be better understood by the study conducted by Uchino and colleagues (1996). They found that social individuals have lower blood pressure, better immunity and lower levels of stress hormones than the socially isolated people. In contrast another study described by Arthur 2006 demonstrated that it is not yet clear that group therapy or socialization can improve the secondary prevention of Coronary heart Disease.
After considering all the studies and arguments by different authors it can be conclude that it is necessary to do more research on the impact of socialization on physical health of individuals. Second impact of social isolation starts to begin from mental health. On the other way mentally ill members sometimes be socially isolated by the other members of the family which adversely impact the mental condition. Mental illness starts first with anxiety which deteriorates to depression and finally psychological disorder.
Mentally ill patients do not want to mention their loneliness rather they express their problem in terms of anxiety and depression. It has been reported by Twenge, 2000 that social isolation from others can give rise to anxiety and stress which if persistent for long time can cause serious morbidity or mortality. In contrast it has also been evident that social affiliation or being with others can reduce or modulate stress and other health complications. This statement has been supported by Brummett et al. 001 who said that “isolation from others is anxiety arousing or stressful in and of itself, producing physiological arousal and changes, which if prolonged, can produce serious morbidity or mortality; and, conversely that affiliation or contact with others reduces or modulates physiological arousal, both, in general and in the presence of stress and other threats to health”. Individuals like to be social because they want to be cared for, loved, esteemed and valued. (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003).
It has been revealed by Kawachi and berkman 2001 that socialization has positive impact on mental health outcomes like stress reactions, psychological wellbeing and distress which intern develop anxiety and depression. From the above evidences it is clear that socially connected individuals are more mentally sound than lonely individuals. The third impact of social isolation, behavioral pattern is the result of the above two impacts. Physically and mentally ill individuals behave differently than the individuals with sound health. Social integration romotes healthy behavior (Cornwell and Waite, 2009). It is evident that it is possible to remove health risk behaviors like smoking, risky sexual behavior and poor diet through social integration. Social isolation impacts the growing teenagers most adversely. Because this is the learning stage and they learn from their neighboring environment. Adolescents who grow up in lonely environment have lower level of self esteem and more psychological problems (Hall-Lande et al 2007). Researches proved that loneliness develops suicidal behavior in adolescents.
Adolescents growing in friendly environment demonstrated increased level of flexibility and thus decreased level of suicide risk. In another study it has been proved that adolescents from social family have later initiation of sexual activity, decreased pregnancy rates, lower levels of substance abuse and fewer suicide attempts (DeVore and Ginsburg, 2005; resnick et al 1997). So it is very important to give good company, friendly family environment for the proper growth of the children. Social isolation is increasing day by day because individuals want to become self dependent and they are getting everything what they want easily.
Internet and computer making human more disconnected with the society. Now a day’s children do not go to playground for playing rather they are getting the games in computer which separates them from friends. If this remain unchanged this may affect all the age groups including the old, adult and more specially the teenagers in all aspects of sound health as described above. These three factors are inter related. If any of them are affected, the other will automatically be affected. So it is the society’s responsibility to keep all the individuals in the society be connected with different programs.
References 1. John T. Cacippo and Louise C. Hawkley 2003,’Social Isolation and Health, with an emphasis on underlying Mechanisms’ Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Vol 46, number 3 supplement (summer 2003): S39-S52) 2. Heather M. Arthur, Phd, RN, NFESC,’Depression 2006 , Isolation, Social Support and Cardiovascular Disease in older Adults’ Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, Vol. 21 No. 55, pp S2-S7 3. Social Inclusion as a determinant of mental Health and wellbeing, Mental Health and Wellbeing Unit’ VicHealth 4.
Social Isolation Kills, But How and Why? Editorial Comment, Psychosomatic Medicine 63:273-274 (2001) 5. Erin York Cornwell and Linda J Waite, 2009’Social Disconnectedness, Perceived Isolation and Health among older Adults’ Journal of Health and Social Behavior , 2009, vol. 50 (March):31-48 6. Jennifer A. Hall-Lande, Marla E. Eisenberg, Sandra L. Christenson, and Dianne Neumark – Sztainer, 2007,’Social Isolation, Phychological Health, and Protective Factors in Adolescence’ Adolescence, vol. 42, No. 166, Summer 2007