Humans were created with the need to have human touch, companionship, and be a part of a community. Mothers hold their infant on their chest when they are born to promote bonding. We have a legitimate need to belong. Children long for their parents, adolescents seek peers and groups, and adults tend to need to have friends and invest in long term relationships. The importance of being a part of a community enables us to survive and thrive, the fear that comes with isolation often leads people to seek out support groups, clubs, group activities, and other social groups.
Social media has already started the process of humans slowly isolating themselves. Cell phones came to fruition and we began two things, although we have the ability to talk to our friends, loved ones, co-workers, and even do our business transactions by phone. The first situation that occurred was our ears were glued to our phones or we were staring utilizing the apps on them. We begin slowly isolating even though we could be in a crowd. There became less and less eye contact and human contact with strangers became virtually extinct. The second is family time has been compromised. It has become the norm for families to gather at the dinner table or in separate rooms in the house and play games, use social media, or talk on the phone. These two scenarios have resulted in face to face human contact to become virtually nil.
The COVID-19 outbreak resulted in many people more alone than ever. Social media and cell phones are a great way to communicate with friends, family, and being able to work from home. This is especially true if you are living alone or are of the elder population. Although we all miss the touch, as stated above we had realistically begun the process of utilizing a form of communication without being face to face before the COVID-19.
This still does not take away the human need for touch and as a result, the body and mind are affected. As the seeds of loneliness and isolation grow, they not only affect our emotional and psychological health, but spring up into weeds of deteriorating physical health. Being isolated and loneliness are stressors that activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. HPA is responsible for increasing glucocorticoids which exert their effects on glucose regulation, metabolism, inflammatory control, cardiovascular, and reproductive health. Long-term HPA can be a root cause of metabolic, endocrine, inflammatory, and psychological health challenges. It has been documented that long-term loneliness is the culprit to the majority of anxiety incidences.
Social isolation can be responsible for exacerbating any preexisting medical conditions in the elderly such as cardiovascular diseases to Alzheimer’s. It can also be responsible in a small amount of time to affect sleep, changes to the immune system and endocrine system. Being isolated can also be responsible for the boredom of which can cause an increase in negative behaviors such as smoking, or smoking more, drinking alcohol at unusual times of the day, and provides an opportunity for not following a schedule.
The Center for Diabetes and Endocrine care has over 45 years of experience. This is a state-of-the-art patient-centered medical facility. If you or a loved one feels you have any of the listed signs or symptoms, we are available for you. 954-963-7100 or you can contact us via email www.diabetesendocare.com