Social isolation is both a potential cause and a symptom of emotional or psychological challenges. As a cause, the perceived inability to interact with the world and others can create an escalating pattern of these challenges. As a symptom, periods of isolation can be chronic or episodic, depending upon any cyclical changes in mood, especially in the case of clinical depression.
Why individuals distance themselves from society
Domestic violence – perpetrator uses social isolation as a means of controlling their victim.
Family crisis – Mostly occurs when one member of a family neglectfully performs a harmful action. For example, if a parent performs any action against the will of their child, the child could end up in shock, and eventually feeling defeated. Furthermore, the symptoms could last for the child for an indefinite period of time, with more symptoms surfacing with the passage of time.
Health and disabilities – People may be embarrassed by their disabilities or health problems, such that they have a tendency to isolate themselves to avoid social interaction out of fear that they would be judged or stigmatized. This is common in people who have autism and other known disorders. Sometimes, rather than embarrassment, the disability itself and a person’s lack of a support network can be the cause of social isolation.
Loss of a spouse – If a spouse has recently separated, divorced, or died, the other person may feel lonely and depressed.
Living alone – A 2015 study by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research found 13 percent of adults in the United States were living alone, up from 12 percent in 1990. The rate of living alone for people under 45 has not changed, but the rate for Americans aged 45 – 65 has increased over the past 25 years. People over the age of 65 are living alone less often.
Unemployment – This can begin if someone is fired, dismissed, or released from a job or workplace, or leaves one of their own accords. If the person struggles or is unable to find a new job for a long period of time (i.e. months or years) the sense of isolation can become exacerbated. Social isolation due to unemployment has been seen to particularly affect men.
Aging – Once a person reaches an age where problems such as cognitive impairments and disabilities arise, they are unable to go out and socialize. Once a person reaches an age where problems such as cognitive impairments and disabilities arise, they are unable to go out and socialize.
Hearing loss – hearing loss can cause communication impairment, which can lead to social isolation particularly in older adults.
Transportation problems – If the person doesn’t have transportation to attend gatherings or to simply get out of the house, they have no choice but to stay home all day, which can lead to those feelings of depression.
Societal adversity – Desire to avoid the discomfort, dangers, and responsibilities arising from being among people. This can happen if other people are sometimes, or often, rude, hostile, critical or judgmental, crude, or otherwise unpleasant. The person would just prefer to be alone to avoid the hassles and hardships of dealing with people. Being a part of an outgroup and social categorization can also play a part in creating adverse circumstances that the individual may attempt to avoid depending on the policies and attitudes of the society.
Missing certain events – Special events are full of tradition and making memories. But if a person couldn’t attend a special event, like a social gathering, dance, or any sort of outing of an event, the symptoms of isolation are on the rise, which could last for an indefinite period of time. Even if another person performed neglectful action to prevent one person from attending the event, this could instantly lead to isolation, along with other multiple symptoms, including nervous shock, which could cause the victim to keep themselves secluded from any sort of future activity to avoid any further damage.
Social isolation can begin early in life. During this time of development, a person may become more preoccupied with feelings and thoughts of their individuality that are not easy to share with other individuals. This can result from feelings of shame, guilt, or alienation during childhood experiences. Social isolation can also coincide with developmental disabilities. Individuals with learning impairments may have trouble with social interaction. The difficulties experienced academically can greatly impact the individual’s esteem and sense of self-worth. An example would be the need to repeat a year of school. During the early childhood developmental years, the need to fit in and be accepted is paramount.