Now that more people are vaccinated, and things are returning to normal, the period of pandemic isolation is almost over. As everyone begins to head back outside for the summer, they may realize that some things will be different. After being isolated for an extended period, some people claim that they have a hard time remembering things or even processing information since the pandemic.
In many cases, being isolated may also be voluntary when we withdraw from people and society. Isolation doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Many people often seek out solo moments occasionally. When you spend time alone, it can be relaxing and rejuvenating. Others are more introverted and naturally inclined to enjoy quieter activities or need solitude to recharge.
However, we need to understand the difference between spending time alone to relax and spending an unhealthy amount of time in social isolation. People who are isolated too much may suffer from having low self-esteem or anxiety, and those who are isolating themselves in an unhealthy way—even voluntarily—should also be carefully monitored. If you notice people you love avoiding social interactions that they once deemed enjoyable, then it won’t hurt to reach out and have a conversation.
When people are cut off from social contact, it can be a problem, especially at an older age. Outside of the pandemic, living away from loved ones, losing a partner, or not being able to drive are other causes of isolation. These life situations can be difficult emotionally but also cause problems with your mental health.
People who spend a lot of time alone at an older age are at a higher risk of developing dementia. This is because isolation has been shown to cause brain shrinkage and reduce brain cell formation, connection, and repair of brain cells. Depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness don’t just stay in those positions. Once your mind begins to struggle, so can your physical body. Spending too much time alone can put someone at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
When a person is isolated, then no one is regularly checking in on them. When you have regular contact with others, they might notice if something seems “off” with you. Those in isolation for extended periods of time might not have someone checking in on their overall state of health. Older individuals might have a health issue that worsens due to a lack of early intervention from another person checking on them.
Although there is no hard evidence supporting the idea that isolation causes some cognitive decline, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t signs. Forgetting simple things like where you put your car keys can progress from forgetting where things are located to leaving the oven on.
Many people in isolation lack important resources to help with daily needs. There’s a decrease in the activity that you need to stimulate the brain. The social interaction that people get from having company keeps the brain active to prevent certain diseases that could affect the brain.
Isolation is also a major sign of depression. This means that the issues can be a cause or result of depression. When people are depressed, they usually tend to withdraw from the public scene. This could be from damaged self-esteem, shame, fear, or what people are thinking. If people begin to view social isolation as a serious problem, they can fully understand the signs and symptoms.
If you are being isolated and feel that it results in some cognitive changes or decline in your brain, it’s important to reach out to your support system. Take advantage of any social media apps that allow video chat. Even if you can only see the faces of your loved ones, it could be enough to prevent you from feeling alone. If you aren’t able to do video chat, a video call can suffice. Increasing your social interactions can reverse some of the negative cognitive side effects. If you are on the opposite end and notice that someone you love is always spending time alone, you make these same suggestions.
Avoiding complete social distancing can combat disorders like depression and anxiety. It’s important not to fall into the trap of these dangerous behaviors. Anything from negative thoughts, not exercising, substance abuse, and an unhealthy diet can push someone to distance themselves. Whether there is a pandemic or not, you should reach out and contact your loved ones and check to see how they are doing.
Whether it is intentional or unintentional, socially isolating yourself can have some major side effects. Although it has been shown to negatively affect older people, it can still mentally affect young and healthy people. Isolating yourself can lead to feelings of depression and make you more vulnerable to mental illnesses such as anxiety. It is important to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while as things begin to open. Reconnect with those you once saw all the time. The truth is many of the people you know may not come out of isolation as you knew them before. So many people are battling anxiety and depression due to being isolated. This is where The Kimberly Center can help. We provide a whole range of services that can help your loved ones overcome any issue involving addiction to mental health. Anything from inpatient to outpatient services can be provided to those who need the help. Get your life back on track today. Contact us at (855) 452-3683.