Learn five ways to stay connected with others and prevent feeling alone.
Living with chronic illness and pain is difficult. And too often, sufferers isolate themselves. As a result, it is important to learn how to manage times of social isolation so depression doesn’t take over.
Chronic illness causes social isolation
“Belonging” is a complex social concept, relating to people, places, and things. It is fundamental to our emotional well-being, helps define us, and keeps us connected. Social isolation, on the other hand, is when you distance yourself, physically, psychologically, or both, from your network of needed relationships.
When you have a chronic illness, isolation can have unforeseen consequences, including worsening symptoms, unexpected health crises, hospitalization, loss of interest in activities, and decreased levels of energy. Anyone living with a long-term health condition is at risk for social isolation.
Managing the symptoms and stress of chronic illness reduces your time and ability to develop and maintain a network of social relationships. Moreover, financial difficulties, physical and emotional limitations, and concerns with self-image can force chronically ill people to isolate themselves. In some cases, you may feel abandoned by friends and/or loved ones, or maybe your close relationships have been disrupted by illness. Sadly, even the most loyal family members and friends sometimes withdraw to protect themselves from watching their loved one struggle.