Isolation Has Profound Effects on The Human Body And Brain. Here’s What Happens

Imagine being confined to a small, dark room, with no social interaction whatsoever for 30 days. Not many people would jump at this opportunity.

But, in November 2018, a professional US poker player Rich Alati bet US$100,000 that he could survive 30 days alone and in total darkness.

He was kept in a small, completely dark room with nothing but a bed, fridge and bathroom. Even with all the resources he needed to survive, Alati couldn’t last the month. After 20 days he negotiated his release, taking a payout of US$62,400.

There are countless negative effects that social isolation and extreme isolation can have on our minds and bodies. Alati was no exception, reporting that he experienced a range of side effects, including changes to his sleep cycle, and hallucinations.

But why is isolation so difficult for humans to withstand?

One of the reasons that living in isolation is difficult is because humans are social creatures. Many people that have lived in isolated environments – such as researchers stationed in Antarctica – report that loneliness can be the most difficult part of the job.

Yossi Ghinsberg, an Israeli adventurer and author who survived weeks alone in the Amazon, said that loneliness was what he suffered from most and that he had created imaginary friends to keep himself company.

Loneliness can be damaging to both our mental and physical health. Socially isolated people are less able to deal with stressful situations.

This explains why people exploring cave systems, for example, may find that their sleep-wake cycle becomes disrupted. This means that the time they feel like going to sleep doesn’t stay in a regular pattern and can shift each day.

Disruptions to our circadian rhythm can also make us feel depressed and fatigued. This has also been linked to increased cancer risk, insulin resistance and heart disease, as well as other physical problems such as obesity and premature aging.

People placed in isolation may also experience hallucinations. The lack of stimuli causes people to misattribute internal thoughts and feelings as occurring in the outer environment. Essentially, hallucinations happen because of a lack of brain stimulation.

In fact, Alati revealed he began experiencing hallucinations by his third day in isolation, ranging from seeing the room fill up with bubbles, to imagining that the ceiling had opened up to show him a starry sky.

People in total isolation may also feel that there is a ghostly presence or someone watching them.

While the impact of total isolation can be severe, the good news is that these effects are reversible. Exposure to daylight can normally correct sleep-wake patterns – though this might take weeks, or even months in some cases, before it’s fully adjusted.

Reconnecting with other humans can reduce loneliness and help restore us to good mental and physical health. However, some people who have been held in social isolation against their will may develop long-term mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But some people who have faced the challenge of being alone for an extended period of time may show personal growth – including emotional growth, feeling closer to family and friends, and having a better perspective on life – as a result of their experience.

After 20 days willingly spent in total isolation, even Alati said he’s changed – reporting that the experience gave him a greater appreciation for people and life, better attention and focus, and overall feeling happier than before.

 

If you are currently isolated or in a “lockdown” situation feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, please reach out. There are services available to help you get through this.

 

Ketamine IV treatments can help fight Isolation Depression

 

If you find yourself cycling through different prescriptions for months with no relief,  and you would like to try an option that has worked for thousands of people, we are here for you. This essential service is still available at our clinic. And, for those who try ketamine infusions, we can confidently say the vast majority find relief and hope.

 

If you would like to contact us for a free consultation, click here.

 

 

original article:

https://www.sciencealert.com/isolation-has-profound-effects-on-the-human-body-and-brain-here-s-what-happens

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