Breaking The Stigma: A Fresh Take On Loneliness And Mental Health

By Abbie Kraft, Parent Herald January 08, 07:35 pm
Research emerged that loneliness in the elderly can affect their overall health and can lower their life expectancy.
(Photo : Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It's already been a known fact that mental health can greatly affect one's overall well-being. Research emerged that loneliness in the elderly can affect their overall health and can lower their life expectancy.

There are countless of reasons on how loneliness can negatively impact a person's mental health. One of which is the fact that a person's brain hormones easily associate loneliness with stress, which can manifest through an individual's physical well-being.

"When you're lonely, brain hormones associated with stress, such as cortisol become active, which can cause depression," Bruce Rabin, MD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Healthy Lifestyle Program explained, as mentioned on Health. "In fact, for mild and moderate depression, social interaction is even more effective at alleviating symptoms than a prescription antidepressant."

NPR then added that easing loneliness among old people can greatly boost their life expectancy as it keeps them healthy. It was mentioned that a study that was done in 2012 revealed that people who felt lonely in a group or alone, experienced depression. People who were lonely were also placed at a high risk or death and overall health deterioration.

There are several reasons for loneliness but there are also ways to combat the feeling of isolation. Experts suggest it is important to maintain connections, especially with physical touches such as hugs and firm affirmations. Fighting loneliness may be a tough call, as it is barely considered a mental health issue but foundations and organizations have already worked their way in fighting the stigma.

Dr. Charlotte Yeh, chief medical officer of AARP Services explained that loneliness is a huge issue, yet it is barely talked about or given attention. In terms of its effect on seniors, it is important to keep them company and make them feel valued, especially when they are part of the family.

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