Solitary Confinement – The Health Risks of Social Isolation

Solitary Confinement – The Health Risks of Social Isolation

There have been a number of recent reports about the importance of socialization and the risks of social isolation. This topic has become increasingly important for people in middle age who often have routines that keep them isolated and for the elderly who are also challenged by isolation. I’ve summed up the facts in this musical musing below.

Click here to listen to this post narrated by me over a bed of my original music performed by Ben Schwendener.

Let me know your thoughts.


Solitary confinement is the punishment we give to our most heinous criminals, putting them in a room alone, limited contact with anyone, come out for a few hours a day, back in the room alone. Solitary confinement.

Today, we live in a world of connectivity. Billions of people on Facebook, and yet more and more people feel alone. It can be the young person living alone in their apartment, commuting to work, sitting at their cubicle, hands on the keyboard, eyes on the screen. It can be the middle age person who tends to get caught in their daily routine or an older person like Eleanor Rigby, sitting alone looking out the window waiting for the phone to ring.

Solitary confinement, it’s not just something that keeps us lonely. People who are older and alone are twice as likely to die early, and loneliness causes increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones that lead to anxiety, and depression, digestive problems, and sleep problems, and weight gain.

People who are alone don’t eat as well. Not worth it to cook for one. (They are) More likely to turn to alcohol.

Solitary confinement can be changed. You only need one friend that you can call to have a posse, or a family member that you can spend time with. You can begin by framing your life, by giving yourself the scheduled alone time and the out in the world time.

You can join a group – religious group, social group, volunteer group. Get a gym membership. If you are going to be alone, make that time productive. In a world of overpopulation and interconnectivity, you don’t want to live in solitary confinement.

Reach out.

Yours in good health,

Dr. Mache

Mache Seibel, MD


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