Why are serious people always alone

So much can loneliness make us sick

People are not made for loneliness: In the past, in prehistoric times, we were dependent on living in community - to ward off dangers and ensure our survival. Therefore, a mechanism has probably developed: If we are on our own and lose the protection of the group, the body goes on alert - and releases the stress hormone cortisol, for example.

Numerous studies show that lonely people are The level of this hormone in the blood also permanently increased. Blood pressure and blood sugar levels also rise, and the immune system is weakened. How exactly the connections work in the body has not yet been researched. But there are some indications.

Several studies have shown that loneliness increases the likelihood of numerous diseases: Besides depressions and Anxiety disorders are these Heart attack, stroke, cancer, dementia. In an extensive meta-study, the American scientist Julianne Holt-Lunstad was able to show that people with functioning social interactions are less likely to suffer from many diseases.

Because: Social interaction protects the heart and strengthens the immune system. Cortisol is a type of marker for the immune system. During social interactions, the number of so-called killer cells increases, which among other things can prevent cancer from developing. But cortisol weakens the formation of killer cells. The general mortality rate among lonely people is increasing.

For a long time, the physical consequences of loneliness in particular received little attention. Holt-Lunstad emphasizes that loneliness is a major risk factor. She compares the dimensions with those of Alcohol addiction and obesity - According to their calculations, a similar number of people are affected. There are very different statements about the extent to which loneliness affects heart health, for example.

It's not just the elderly who are lonely

Older people are particularly affected, but many people in their mid-thirties also suffer from loneliness. "There are more people living in one-person households than ever before," explains psychiatrist Meyer-Lindenberg. However, it is not necessarily living alone. Loneliness and a lack of social interaction mean: I have fewer social contacts than I would like.

Experts observe three phenomena of loneliness:

  • Loneliness correlates with other harmful behaviors (for example, those who are lonely often eat poorly).
  • Loneliness and the feeling of isolation trigger stress - people sleep worse.
  • Loneliness correlates with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Are we possibly confusing cause and effect? Do we perhaps have fewer social contacts because or when we are sick? "With younger people it works more in the direction that loneliness makes you sick, with older people it works in both directions - they are lonely because they are sick and / or sick and therefore lonely," says Meyer-Lindenberg. Scientists do see indications that social interactions can buffer stress - and thus counteract cardiovascular diseases.