Effects of Isolation on Mental Health

Feb 16, 2022 | Blog, Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health

In a perfect world, everyone would have the tools to improve their mental health and would be able to be healthy and happy at all times. Unfortunately, we are living in unprecedented times with the current pandemic our world is living in. One of the biggest effects of this pandemic is the effects that living in isolation can have on our mental health. In order to stay safe and healthy from COVID-19, we may need to isolate ourselves from others to prevent future spread. This isolation can cause depression, anxiety, and other effects on our mental well-being. While isolation can be damaging, there are some ways to help and add some socialization even if you need to be physically isolated from others.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States alone it is estimated that over 16 million people struggle with depression. The cause of depression can be from trauma, unresolved emotional pain, chemical imbalances or other emotional issues. (For more on the causes of depression, click here What Causes Depression (nddtreatment.com)). 

Regardless of the cause, depression can be very challenging to deal with and to explain to others. When people are depressed they tend to isolate themselves, but the isolation itself can be another cause of depression. One of the biggest problems with depression is the way it affects motivation. When you are depressed, you have no motivation to work on things that you know will help you feel better. This can create a damaging cycle that is incredibly difficult to get out of. A study that researched the impact of social isolation during COVID-19 found that in both children and adults there was a correlation with higher rates of depression and anxiety when isolation increased.

Depression and Anxiety are Linked

It is common for someone who struggles with depression, to also struggle with anxiety. 40 million people in the United States struggle with anxiety, making it the most common mental illness. When someone is isolated, they can develop higher levels of nervousness or anxiety because they are not getting the socialization and connection with others that they need to survive. Anxiety can also, unfortunately, come from our own thoughts. Isolation can give more time to ruminate on the past or worry about the future. Rumination is a dangerous practice that can take up far too much time and energy. Isolation can also damage our ability to communicate with others in an effective way. Even further, isolation can cause social anxiety. Social anxiety is a specific form of anxiety that is caused by being in social situations. Someone that struggles with anxiety may have a difficult time being in social situations and may avoid them whenever possible. For more information on anxiety and depression, click here Anxiety and Depression (nddtreatment.com). 

Another effect of isolation is a decreased amount of confidence and self-worth. A lower level of self-worth can actually cause isolation in some cases. If you feel badly about yourself, you likely won’t want to put yourself out there in new social situations. Anxiety and depression can crush our self-esteem with negative thoughts and outlooks. Like we previously mentioned, rumination can cause focusing on negative thoughts which can drastically affect your mood and general mental health.

Strategies to Combat Isolation

There are quite a few ways that you can stay in touch even if you are physically isolated. Thankfully, in the current world we live in, we have many forms of technology available to us. You can talk to someone via text message, video chat, or an old-fashioned phone call. Any of these methods can help you to stay connected to your loved ones during periods of isolation. Like we mentioned earlier when you are depressed you are not as motivated to do the things that help you feel better. One way to get around this is to schedule a time to talk to a loved one and ask them to keep you accountable. By having some accountability, you will have a greater chance of actually doing whatever it is that will help you feel better. 

Another thing you can do to combat the effects of isolation is to take care of yourself. This may seem like a simple task, but when you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem from isolation, it can be more difficult than usual. By taking care of your body and mind, you will increase the chances of your mood improving, which will improve your motivation and ability to do the things you need to do to feel better overall. Self-care can be the things you do every day such as brushing your teeth, showering, and basic grooming habits. If you take it a step further you can try exercising, examining your sleep schedule, reading, taking a long bath, or any other activity that requires you to slow down and take care of yourself in some way. 

Unfortunately, sometimes in life, we are required to be isolated from others for an extended period of time. Any form of isolation (even just working from home) can cause the effects we discussed in this article. With the increase of working from home and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, knowing how to combat the effects of isolation can be extremely important. Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem can greatly affect our overall well-being. These habits may be developed in isolation but can, unfortunately, continue to affect life if they go untreated. If you are struggling with any of these effects or other effects from isolation, seek professional help. Seeking help for your mental health is not weak, it’s actually the strongest thing you can do. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent isolation, but we can be aware of the ways to maintain our mental health and well-being. 

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.