Mind & Body

Being Alone Is Bad For Your Mind And Body

Being out in the wilderness with nothing but your own survival knowledge and a few key tools is a tough challenge for anyone. This is the premise of the HISTORY program "Alone." But a less obvious challenge comes along with surviving these conditions — the challenge of doing it, just as the title suggests, completely alone. Loneliness not only takes a toll on your mental health, but studies show that social isolation negatively affects your physical health too. Psychologists at University of Chicago and Ohio State University have done research that shows changes in the immune systems of socially isolated people. These changes can lead to a condition called chronic inflammation. Lonely people also have higher levels of cortisol, which, in high amounts, can cause inflammation and disease.

To explore more topics related to surviving alone in the wilderness, check out our series ALONE Presents: Surviving the Wilderness.

The Effects of Social Isolation

An explanation of the physical and mental effects of prolonged social isolation.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Loneliness can affect everything from how we feel, to how we sleep, to which genes are turned on or off in our DNA. 01:31

  2. A study published in 1988 showed that social isolation could predict early death. 02:04

  3. A recent study used hypnosis to manipulate the feelings of loneliness and found that when a participant was made to feel lonely he or she developed poor social skills. Loneliness caused people to feel shy, hostile, angry, socially uncomfortable, and depressed. What were once thought of as predetermining factors of loneliness turned out to be consequences. 08:06

Why Do We Feel Lonely?

What causes us to feel lonely?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Studies have linked loneliness to certain genetic markers. 00:59

  2. Astronaut Al Worden was the most isolated man in history. 01:42

  3. Experiencing nostalgia can help with loneliness. 02:56

How Lonliness Effects The Body

The mental state of being lonely can have a physical as well as mental impact on the body.

Written by Curiosity Staff April 27, 2016

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