BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A precarious mental health can have terrible consequences on one’s physical well-being, and a new study comes with further proof. It shows that lonely people experience more severe cold symptoms than those who are more social.
The study was published in the journal Health Psychology. It reports that people who feel lonely also have to struggle with tougher colds, as compared to people who are surrounded by others more often. After considering factors like age, gender, season, and the degree of social isolation, the results remained the same.
This strengthens the idea that mental state can play an important role in physical health. Thus, researchers think that this study should encourage doctors to consider their patients’ psychological state before putting a diagnose.
Researchers regard their study as important for the community, since psychological factors play a big role in common colds. For instance, people do not associate it only with physical struggles, but also with economic struggles. Angie LeRoy, one of the authors of the study, explained the following:
“Millions of people miss work each year because of it. And that has to do with how they feel, not necessarily with how much they’re blowing their noses.”
The study involved 159 people who were infected with a common cold on purpose. Before, the researchers assessed their mental and physical conditions. Then, the participants were put into quarantine for five days. Afterwards, it was time to collect the results.
Those people who belonged to a stronger social circle had less severe cold symptoms. The situation was the opposite for people who reported feeling lonely. Note that some people could have big friend circles and still feel lonely. Thus, it the strength of the friendship, and not the number of friends, which influences the severity of the cold symptoms.
There was one more thing that the study focused upon. The results indicated how certain individual felt when encountering other factors of stress. For instance, some might have resorted to social isolation after suffering a social trauma, such as the death or illness of a relative or friend.
Loneliness can affect one’s health on a short term, but it can also have more dangerous effects if it persists. People who reside in loneliness are at a higher risk of early death. Therefore, researchers advise people to concentrate on building quality relationships, since this is what matters more for their well-being.
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