According to a recent study conducted at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences isolation as well as loneliness might increase the risk of serious health complications such as type 2 diabetes. It was a 20-year follow-up study.
According to the best doctors in Faisalabad, type diabetes is a condition in which people suffer from a disability of insulin use. The body produces insulin but is unable to use it.
Roger Henriksen who is an associate professor currently teaching at the Institute of Nursing at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences said that the main driving force of this study was to learn the impact of social isolation on health and wellness. He said that “At a neurological level, it means the brain actually expects to be together with people you trust,”
Henriksen was also the co-author of a previous study that signifies the impact that a lack of social skills might have on people’s life. This study leads to the conclusion that people “may experience more demands on their own neural metabolic resources on a daily basis when solving problems, remaining vigilant against potential threats and regulating emotional responses.”
The Sample Size of the Current Study
The study was launched back in 1984 when the sample size consisted of 230,000 participants. They were ask to provide health information by filling out questionnaires and queries as well as blood samples. This accounts for 24,000 participants in the study.
The High Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
So after the decision of the population, the risk factors were taken into consideration. During this study, 1179 participants developed type 2 diabetes between the year 1995 to 1997 and from 2017 to 2019. Participants who had developed type 2 diabetes were mainly male and had a mean age of 48 years, were more likely to be married and had the lowest level of education.
Almost 12% of them were suffering from loneliness.
According to Henriksen “The finding is important because type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects many people. The [World Health Organization] has recently listed type 2 diabetes among the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Identifying a risk factor for such a widespread disease is always important.”
The Truth Behind the Mechanism
The possible mechanism at play is that loneliness might encourage the body to initiate the physiological stress response which leads to the overproduction of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by adrenal glands as a response to stress.
The researchers cited that “This, in turn, may lead to increased food intake, in particular the intake of carbohydrates, and to increased insulin resistance. These processes play an important role in supplying the activated, metabolically demanding brain with sufficient glucose.”
Another speculation that is worthy is that social isolation can make an individual ignorant of their health by putting less emphasis on exercise and lifestyle.
According to Andrea Paul who has been studying loneliness and its impact on the increased risk of type 2 diabetes. “It’s more likely, in my opinion, that people who are extremely lonely also overlap with people who don’t focus as much on health,”
“It’s uncommon to come across someone who’s very lonely but also focused on nutrition, exercise, and wellness. While loneliness may directly cause diabetes by activation of stress hormones, this study doesn’t prove so,”
The Role of Depression and Insomnia
Henriksen said “Previous research has shown us that loneliness can lead to depression. And loneliness can also lead to bad sleep. And we also know that bad sleep and depression can lead to type 2 diabetes. “There is a reason to believe that maybe if we find this link between loneliness and type 2 diabetes, it could be explain by sleep and depression. Maybe that’s the mechanism.”
But at the time of the conclusion researchers analysed that neither depression nor insomnia acts as a connection between loneliness and type 2 diabetes.
The Future Prospects
The lead researcher said that there is still a need for understanding the connection between type 2 diabetes and loneliness. According to Henriksen “I still think we should investigate this. I can’t understand why depression or sleep should not play a role. It’s more like talking to [patients] one on one and trying to find out who will be a good match with each other and stuff like that,”