Social interaction is the building block of all social networks. As social beings, it’s innate in us to connect to others. We thrive in collaborative networks of people. Unfortunately, the current global pandemic is forcing us to physically isolate ourselves. Sadly, this often translates to social isolation.
Social isolation is recognized as a social determinant of health with relevance to mortality, diseases, and mental health. How then is social isolation linked to depression?
Loneliness vs Depression
Having limited to zero social interactions may cause feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is an emotional response to a sense of aloneness, real or perceived. Depression, on the other hand, is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
How are they connected?
Persistent and prolonged loneliness due to social isolation may possibly lead to clinical depression. Chronic isolation can lead to loss of zest for life and living. Furthermore, clinical depression may result in self-imposed social isolation. This then becomes a vicious cycle that makes an individual feel even more alone and utterly disconnected from his social circles.
The elderly have always been at risk of social isolation and depression even before the pandemic hit. This was made even worse because they are most susceptible to the adverse effects of the virus, hence, were literally forced into isolation since 2020.
Studies say that in the USA, 40% of older adults feel lonely, and at least 5.7% have depression.
Teens and minors
According to studies, 80% of 18 years old and below have reported feeling lonely or socially isolated. About 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood.
Although social media is prevalent, the lack of depth in the youth’s interaction these days may increase their sense of loneliness. They may be virtually or digitally connected, but they may not feel socially connected.
Whilst we are not yet completely free from the virus that separates us physically, we can find ways to feel less isolated. Reach out to friends and family using technology. Find ways to communicate with depth and meaning. Join groups that share your values and interests and become a part of a community.
Feeling connected and having a sense of belongingness can certainly help you from feeling isolated and depressed.