Americans across the nation are experiencing varying degrees of social isolation, and it is a pressing matter for the general health of the populace. This is due to the fact that humans require social interaction in order to remain healthy. With a pandemic forcing people to distance themselves from each other in order to slow down the spread of the virus, social isolation is an inevitable occurrence. But what exactly are the risks of social isolation on people during a pandemic, and what options are available to mitigate its effect?
Understanding The Effect of Social Isolation on Society
The effect of social isolation on people can widely vary as each person has their own personality and preferences. Each has their own way of handling the social distancing needed to minimize the spread of Covid-19. However, the effect of social isolation is tangible regardless of who is experiencing it. Mental and physical health are all at risk when a person is isolated from society for an extended period of time.
Declining Mental Health and Higher Risk for Mental Disorders
A common occurrence when people are isolated is the increased risk of mental health disorders. Depression, dementia and anxiety are common in people who are isolated for extended periods of time. This is more common today due to the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the nation alongside the need for social distancing measures in order to mitigate it’s spread.
Declining Physical Health
Mental health isn’t the only thing affected by isolation. A person’s physical health is also at risk. The physical effects of social isolation can be compared to smoking, or obesity with how it negatively affects a person. Loneliness can cause a person to be more susceptible to various diseases as it compromises the immune system by inducing inflammatory responses while suppressing antiviral immunity, making a person more vulnerable to infections. This is an especially major concern during a pandemic.
Higher Risk of Alcohol and Drug Related Vices
A rising concern during the pandemic is a rise in the number of people reaching out to alcohol and drugs to cope with the isolation. Alcohol sales in the United States alone has increased by 55% while online purchases of alcohol have increased by a staggering 243%. Having alcohol and drug abuse together with loneliness or social isolation can further harm a person’s overall health.
Options To Break The Cycle of Isolation During a Pandemic
Breaking the cycle of isolation is a difficult undertaking when a pandemic is preventing people from going to social gatherings. However, there are a number of available options to assist in maintaining social stability and subsequently, mental and physical well being.
Alternative Social Interaction Options
With the pandemic preventing face to face interaction, alternative methods of connecting with are assets that need to be used. Modern technology allows people from anywhere across the planet to connect and interact with each other. Blogs, video conferences, message boards, and chat platforms are all available to interact with others and maintain a person’s need for social interaction. However, it has to be noted that online interaction is not a replacement for face to face interaction.
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