Loneliness can hurt. And not just emotionally ...

According to a survey, loneliness creates significant mental health risks, both in terms of depression and in terms of anxiety.

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Loneliness can hurt. And not just emotionally, but physically as well: being alone could create significant health risks. If it is true that, in some moments, loneliness is an opportunity for rebirth, in others - especially when it causes serious discomfort - isolation can even make us sick. A demonstration of what "social animals" we are.

This was supported in a study by researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, who, led by Professor Manfred Beutel, found that loneliness creates significant mental health risks, "both for depression and for as regards the level of anxiety "

To reach this conclusion, German scholars have analyzed the behavior of more than 15 thousand people between 35 and 74 years, for five years, keeping under control the level of psychophysical health associated with the evaluation of the presence of a true feeling of loneliness.

From the results it emerged that leaving the network of classic interactions of everyday life, closing oneself in one's own very personal emotional state, can lead to to get sick, given that man by nature has a profoundly social behavior.

“Loneliness also increases the likelihood of being a smoker, a classic indicator of a bad lifestyle. The reduced quality of mental health can then be the cause of a greater number of visits to the doctor, hospitalizations and use of psychotropic drugs. Taken together, these results give solid support to the belief that loneliness should be considered in itself a significant health variable, ”says Beutel of the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy.

But how? Wasn't loneliness something that could be seen with a positive meaning and a good opportunity to (re) know and (re) find one's inner wealth? Of course, yes: “Those who do not know how to populate their own solitude, do not even know how to be alone in the midst of the bustling crowd”, wrote Baudelaire, and it is certainly true.

But there are those cases where it no longer works. Those cases in which loneliness turns into forced and perennial isolation, which can place on the edge of an abyss. And that is when serious consequences can take place and we are no longer us.

In short, this German experiment warns us: when the feeling of loneliness is not simply the equivalent of a one-off "being alone" and then rather turns into an emotional state that leads to the unpleasant experience of social isolation. , Yes they can produce adverse health effects.

In short, for true loneliness there must be a "discrepancy between our social needs and their possibility of realization in the environment in which we live". When a painful sense of abandonment is felt, a spontaneous search for social contacts is activated, those inner mechanisms that tempt us to seek connections again to overcome the feeling of isolation (drive to re-affiliation).

"Just as physical pain is a signal that has evolved to prompt a person to take actions to minimize damage to their body, so loneliness motivates the person to minimize the damage to their social body," explains Pamela Qualter, of the School of Psychology of the University of Central Lancashire.

How then? Enjoy those moments of pure isolation, jealously preserve them as your own personal passage towards better moments. And no more. Then, it is almost certain that only life with the presence of another and constant sharing can make a difference.

Germana Carillo

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