Five Mental Effects of Chronic Loneliness

Five Mental Effects of Chronic Loneliness

Loneliness is an emotion that nearly everyone experiences at some point in their life. It is the feeling of disconnectedness or isolation and can make it extremely hard to communicate with others.

While feelings of loneliness tend to fade once an individual starts to interact with others, periods of chronic loneliness and isolation are typically more long-lasting and can have a serious negative impact on overall mental health. 

The following are a few of the mind-related effects that can crop up due to chronic loneliness.


Prolonged periods of loneliness have been shown to increase the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Having high levels of cortisol in your blood for long periods of time can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and depression. At worse, this anxiety can cause you to shy away from getting out there and hanging out with people, which keeps you from getting rid of the loneliness.

Poor Sleep Quality

It can be hard to fall asleep when you’re feeling lonely. You may find that you dwell on feelings of isolation making it difficult to clear your head and get a restful night’s sleep. Not only that but the high cortisol levels associated with chronic loneliness also make it hard for us to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Substance Abuse

Instances of alcoholism or substance abuse are common in people who suffer from chronic loneliness. This may be due to the fact that people turn to these substances when they feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to. And, while drinking may make you forget that you feel lonely for a time, it doesn’t actually address the factors and root causes of what makes you feel lonely.

Negative Self-Image

Feeling lonely can have a major impact on the way that you view yourself. It’s easy to think poorly of yourself when it seems like you’re all alone in the world. You may even feel like you’re doing something wrong or that your loneliness is your fault somehow. Not only can these self-defeating thoughts further your anxiety and depression, but they may also keep you from having positive interactions in the future.

Feeling Withdrawn

One of the most troubling effects of chronic loneliness is that it oftentimes makes you feel withdrawn and as though you don’t want to make a connection with other people. This means that even if someone who is feeling lonely were to have a conversation with a friend or a family member, they may not open up like they normally would. It prevents them from forming the connections that they need to feel that they’re not alone.


Since loneliness is such a common feeling, many people underestimate the negative impact that chronic loneliness can have on a person mentally and emotionally. If you think that you’re feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It can be difficult to overcome loneliness by yourself, but, with the help of your friends and family, you can start taking steps toward feeling less isolated and bringing more social interaction to your life.

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