Life in isolation isn’t that much fun. And while some people are coping with the current circumstances and the social distancing imposed as a result of the Covid-19 measures, others are having a real hard time.

Regardless of contemporary technologies, social distancing can lead to loneliness and sadness. Combined with worries about the current state of affairs and the infection rate, this loneliness could result in a higher risk of depression.

Though social distancing in Singapore isn’t as severe as it has gotten to be in other parts of the world, there are still some concerns about the long-term mental health impact from the situation caused by the pandemic.

The Toll of Social Distancing and Loneliness

Regardless of the circumstances, there will always be people experiencing feelings of loneliness. In a world that’s being forced to embrace social distancing, however, the sentiment is imposed on a much larger segment of the population than ever before.

Coronavirus is affecting the world at a time when more people than ever before are living on their own.

In the absence of a significant other or a family to share everyday life with, the isolation can get to be way too much.

While the social distancing measures in Singapore aren’t as severe as they are in other parts of the world, normal life and interactions between people have undoubtedly been affected. And as per the latest data, 30.9 per cent of the adult population is single. In the 25 to 29 age group alone, this figure is 68.1 per cent.

Some of these people live with parents but others live on their own. These individuals are susceptible to loneliness, especially if they’re currently working from home. Studies suggest that loneliness is a major health risk especially for the elderly. Prolonged loneliness has a health effect similar to smoking 15 cigarettes per day, some studies suggest. It can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, strokes and even premature death.

Loneliness also brings up the risk of clinical depression. The symptoms include apathy, the lack of interest in activities that a person previously enjoyed, poor concentration, low energy, appetite changes and sleep problems among others.

The human brain can process all types of information and handle situations better in the presence of other people. Simply holding hands with a loved one leads to lower anxiety levels and quicker resolution of issues, mental health studies suggest.

Touch regulates emotions, calms the brain down and can even have an anti-pain (analgesic) effect. In the absence of physical contact, our brains can easily go into overdrive mode that contributes to excessive worry, high levels of stress and anxiety.

Overcoming Social Distancing Isolation, Loneliness and Sadness

If you live on your own and you feel that the Covid-19 measures are getting you down, it’s time to seek proactive change in your life. There are things you can do to feel more connected to others and to manage your stress/anxiety more effectively.

Digital technologies are your best ally. You can carry out video chats with people that you love and appreciate, regardless of their location. Turn that into a weekly ritual, sharing a glass of friend or a cup of coffee with friends, even if you cannot physically be with each other like using the apps Zoom or HouseParty

Reduce the amount of time you spend on social media and news websites. Constantly reading about Covid-19 and being informed of negative developments isn’t helping your mental health. Instead, dedicate that time to some positive experiences – watch a favourite movie or listen to uplifting music.

Finding a community to join is another nice way to stay connected.

Online communities and forums are based on interests and things that the members have in common. Connecting with such similar-minded individuals will help you discover your “tribe” and feel more included in a community that interests and excites you.

To overcome loneliness, you can either deepen your current relationships or try establishing new ones.

If you’re single, now’s the time to give online dating a try, even if its going to be fully virtual with no physical meetups. If you already fancy someone you know, try to get into a more deeper relationship with them. You can carry out deep and meaningful conversations online, helping you discover points of similarity and lovely possibilities for the future.

There are many other things you can do to stay connected or feel good. Do you have elderly neighbours? Offer some assistance in getting them supplies and medicines. Such assistance and other kinds of volunteering projects give you the feel-good vibes in the middle of a global crisis that could potentially last for months.

Finally, don’t ignore or underestimate your feelings.

When the loneliness becomes overbearing, seek out assistance. Chances are that you’ll be capable of handling the issue on your own. Clinical depression, however, is not a condition to take lightly. It can ruin or even end your life if you don’t take it seriously and get professional help as soon as possible.

There are many hotlines you can use to get more information about depression and other common mental health problems that stem from loneliness and the high levels of stress stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic is fully operational and our mental health professionals that includes our principal psychiatrist and psychologists are ready to answer your questions. We believe in holistic treatments, which is why we have developed a comprehensive depression treatment plan that’s tailored to the specific needs of the individual as well as other mental health services.

Reach us by phone or use the Contact Us page to let us know what’s going on or to schedule an appointment. We have extensive experience in the treatment of depression and mood disorders, which makes the team confident in our ability to assist you in the best way possible.