Social Isolation Among Men

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation and loneliness were impacting men in significant numbers. While everyone needs to be alone every once in a while, the effects of social isolation among men has led many to experience the symptoms of loneliness.

Isolation and Loneliness Pre-Pandemic

A survey conducted in 2019 found that loneliness was more common among men. The report details the fact that, pre-pandemic, 63% of men said they were lonely, compared with 58% of women. Several factors were identified in the report, including workplace culture and conditions at the time. Other factors included the use of social media, with 73% of the heaviest social media users considered to be lonely, compared with 52% of light users.

There were a few generational differences, although the feelings of isolation were found to be prevalent across all generations. Younger people, between the ages of 18 and 22, had the highest average loneliness score and Baby Boomers had the lowest. In terms of working conditions, people with good co-worker relationships were less lonely as were those who reported a good work-life balance.

During the Pandemic

A separate study conducted in October 2020 found that 61% of those young people, between the ages of 18 and 25 in this survey, reported high levels of feeling lonely. Just over a third of all respondents, 36%, reported feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time” in the previous four weeks.

This new study also points to the symptoms of loneliness that can lead to a downward spiral for some people. The young people who reported serious loneliness also said they were feeling as though no one “genuinely cared” about them. Survey participants who said they were lonely often felt they were reaching out or listening to other people more than those other people were reaching out or listening to them.

During the pandemic, the guidance and restrictions requiring “social distancing” have led to an increase in social isolation. This sense of isolation has increased the feelings of loneliness, having an adverse impact on individuals’ mental and physical health. Throughout the pandemic, women who live alone may be more likely to feel lonely, but men are less likely to reach out for help for their loneliness, out of a self-perceived need to appear strong.

Some Men Are Truly Lonely

Social isolation among men may have more of an impact than is being reported. The burden of being alone is particularly difficult for men to bear, often with devastating consequences. Alexander Tsai, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has reported that men who don’t have strong social ties commit suicide at over the twice of the rate of those men who are able to surround themselves with supportive friends and family members.

Although many men like to be independent and enjoy some time alone, some men are truly lonely. Loneliness is the perception that an individual lacks or has lost meaningful social relationships. Loneliness can occur in social isolation, which is the actual measurable loss of social contact. It is also possible for a man to feel lonely even when he is not socially isolated. A man’s desire for connection with others may not match the reality of his situation, as he may have few friends or social contacts that satisfy his needs.

Symptoms of Loneliness

There are many mental and physical health ramifications of feeling lonely. It can impair an individual’s ability to sleep, and it can drive unhealthy behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol. Social isolation among men may keep them from seeking medical care for their symptoms and may increase their stress level.

Loneliness has also been associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety, as well as an increased incidence of cancer. Although neither loneliness nor social isolation have been connected with prostate cancer in men, being single without a support network has been associated with poorer survival outcomes for cancer patients. In addition, loneliness among middle-aged men is associated with an increased likelihood of cancer, including lung cancer.

A Symptom of Depression

Loneliness can make an individual feel empty or unwanted. An individual who is experiencing the symptoms of loneliness may find it more difficult to form connections with other people. Loneliness can also be a symptom of depression or other psychological disorders. Depression, in particular, causes an individual to withdraw socially and that can lead to social isolation among men. In turn, loneliness can be a factor contributing to the symptoms of depression.

Mental Health Treatment for Men at PACE

If you are experiencing loneliness, depression, or the effects of social isolation, reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and any substance use issues you may also have developed as a result of your loneliness. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

 

Do You Have Health Anxiety?

When you see a new spot on your skin or start to feel a tickle in your throat, you may wonder if these are signs of a health issue. Maybe you’ve been bitten by an insect or you’re getting a cold. When you worry and stress excessively over developing a serious illness, you may have a condition known as health anxiety. During COVID-19, your anxiety about your health may have grown even more concerning.

What is Health Anxiety?

When you are preoccupied with the belief that you may have or are in danger of developing a serious illness, you might be diagnosed with health anxiety. You may be unable to function or enjoy life as others do, because you constantly fear becoming ill.

An individual with health anxiety will become obsessed with monitoring their heart and breathing rates. They will notice and stress over minor physical abnormalities such as skin blemishes and worry over the slightest headache or stomachache. Health anxiety results from misinterpreting normal bodily sensations as being dangerous and threatening.

Very Real Symptoms

Someone with health anxiety can experience real physical symptoms. They can have a stomachache, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, jitteriness, chest pressure, and other symptoms that may arise from their anxiety rather than from an issue with their physical health. However, when they experience these symptoms, they are even more convinced that something is seriously wrong with them, physically.

Looking for Symptoms

If you have health anxiety, you may convince yourself that you have valid reasons for your concerns. For example, you may have heard a news story about an illness that is spreading in another country and think that it will certainly come to the US, just as the COVID-19 virus did. You may also have a family member who had cancer or another serious disease and become convinced that you are also destined to get it.

When you start thinking about your family history or even news from halfway around the world, you start paying even more attention to your own body for symptoms. When you look for these symptoms, you will notice even the subtlest of sensations that you would otherwise just ignore.

Seeking Reassurance

People with health anxiety will find that they are in a vicious cycle when it comes to seeking reassurance from a medical professional. They will insist on multiple medical tests and may even visit the emergency room or urgent care center frequently because they believe they have contracted a serious illness. However, when the healthcare provider is unable to find a physical cause for the symptoms, this creates even more anxiety.

Health Anxiety During COVID-19

The pandemic has had a psychological effect on many individuals, especially those with a pre-existing health anxiety. The impact of the virus on physical and mental health across the globe may not be known for a while, but if you have health anxiety you know the impact COVID-19 is having on you now. During this uncertain time, you probably have even more anxiety about becoming infected. You may also worry excessively about the possibility of spreading the virus to other people.

Part of the increase in anxiety during the pandemic is the proliferation of news about the virus, its changing variants, the symptoms, and the transmission rate. These news items can make your anxiety much worse.

Steps to Help Ease Anxiety

It’s a good idea to limit your exposure to these news reports, particularly if they are not from trusted sources. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC are probably the most reliable, scientific sources of health information during the pandemic and during “normal” times.

You can also take steps to ease your anxiety by following healthy daily routines. Go outside, get some fresh air, and get some exercise. You can safely walk on open pathways as well as stretch or practice yoga to keep your body in good physical health. Mindfulness and meditation are also beneficial for your mental health.

Mental Health Treatment for Men at PACE

If you are experiencing health anxiety, you can reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery for help. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and any substance use issues you may also have developed as a result of your anxiety. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

What is Fellowship?

When you are in addiction treatment, you may feel as though you are the only one going through the challenges of recovery. Fellowship with others can help you feel as though you are supported and that you are no longer alone. What is fellowship and how can it guide you through a successful recovery from your addiction?

National Recovery Month

The month of September is designated as National Recovery Month. In 2021, the theme is “Recovery is for everyone: every person, every family, every community.” National Recovery Month is in its 32nd year, celebrating the gains made by people in recovery and promoting new evidence-based treatment. A strong and proud recovery community is emerging and that includes individuals like you, who are moving forward toward a healthier life.

Knowing That You Are Not Alone

Fellowship in recovery is critical to understanding that you are not alone as you go through your addiction treatment program. There are many people who care about you and your success, who have been through addiction themselves, and who are now in recovery as well.

Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recognize the value of fellowship as being in a group of people who have a similar goal, that goal being overcoming your addiction. Fellowship helps ensure that you don’t have to walk the path toward sobriety alone. You can learn from those who have shared your experiences, including what to avoid and what to embrace as you work toward success in recovery.

Fellowship Means People Who Care

Fellowship is not just the process of going to a support group meeting. Fellowship is all about the people you interact with throughout your life. Fellowship is about sharing experiences and supporting one another in addiction treatment and recovery.

Developing a fellowship with others can benefit your mental and physical health, particularly as you go through treatment for an addiction. Being with people who care can help prevent loneliness and provide the support you need. In turn, you can offer fellowship to others to help them through their struggles.

A fellowship with other individuals can increase your sense of purpose and your sense of belonging. It can improve your sense of self-worth as well as your self-confidence. Knowing you have others you can lean on can help you stay strong as you avoid unhealthy habits, including the use of drugs or alcohol. Overall, quality fellowship can increase your happiness and reduce your stress levels.

Learning From Fellowship

Beyond the encouragement and support you’ll gain from fellowship with others, you will probably learn from their experiences as well. Those individuals who have been through what you are going through now can offer their expertise and advice on many areas of the recovery process. Others in your support group can share what they have learned from certain situations in their life that are probably very similar to yours. Likewise, you can share some of the lessons you have learned to help support them in their recovery.

Developing Fellowship

All of this may sound great to you, but you are wondering how you will find people who can be part of your fellowship circles, in a positive way. It is no longer healthy for you to be around your former “friends” who used drugs or alcohol with you, or possibly even supplied the substances to you. Finding a new circle of supportive individuals is critical for moving forward towards a healthier life.

Volunteering for a community organization can not only help you meet new, positive individuals but also gives you a great feeling of giving back. You will stay busy, develop supportive relationships, and gain a sense of purpose for your life in your recovery.

Consider joining a support group in your recovery. Fellowships such as AA are focused on encouraging each other and on forming healthy relationships with people who are experiencing the same challenges as you, as each of you focuses on regaining a productive and meaningful life without drugs or alcohol.

Addiction and Mental Health Support for Men

At PACE Recovery, we optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your addiction to drugs or alcohol and your mental health issues. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

The professionals at PACE understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol affects many areas of your health. It can impact the way you think and even the way you look. Alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease, so the more you drink and the more often you drink, the more you and others will notice changes in your mental and physical health. Physical signs of alcoholism can result from the conditions and diseases caused by excess alcohol in your body.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcoholism is more than simply having an occasional glass of wine with dinner. When you have an alcohol use disorder, you have become dependent on alcohol despite the problems it may be causing you at work or at home. Alcoholism can cause lasting changes in the brain, which makes stopping the harmful drinking dangerous without professional help. Just over 14 million adults in the US had an alcohol use disorder in 2019.

Damage to Physical Health

Beyond the changes to your mental health, there are also many physical signs of alcoholism. It’s hard to cover up the smell of alcohol on your breath, of course, but excessive drinking can also lead to poor overall hygiene. Many people do not eat properly as a result of their alcohol use disorder, so weight loss and malnutrition are frequent signs as well.

Skin Issues

Alcohol can cause you to be dehydrated, as it slows down the process of an anti-diuretic hormone in your body. Your kidneys will have to work twice as hard to counteract the excess fluid and that results in your organs becoming dehydrated. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and will show physical signs, including cracks and wrinkles. Excessive drinking can make you appear much older than you actually are.

Hair Loss

Zinc deficiency is one of the effects of alcoholism and that can cause hair loss. You will probably also have lower levels of vitamins B and C as well as higher levels of estrogen as a result of your drinking, which can also cause hair loss.

Red Face and Bloodshot Eyes

Alcohol will cause the small blood vessels in your skin to widen, which allows more blood to flow closer to the surface. Sometimes the blood vessels on your face will actually burst and the capillaries will break. Your face will become red. When you have an alcohol use disorder and drink large quantities or frequently, this skin change in your face can be permanent.

The blood vessels in your eyes will also become irritated, causing a condition known as bloodshot eyes. More seriously, binge drinking can lead to optic neuropathy or toxic amblyopia, which can leave you blind.

Bloating

People may joke about having a “beer belly.” Unfortunately, alcohol use can lead to the body becoming deprived of the fluids and electrolytes it needs, so it will store the water you do consume through food or beverage. You are probably having to go to the bathroom more when you drink and you may be sweating more, causing even more water loss. Your body reacts by retaining what water it still has in its system. That makes your stomach look puffy, as well as possibly your feet, face, and hands.

Signs of Liver Failure

One of the more serious effects of alcoholism is the damage it causes your liver. Cirrhosis of the liver happens when your liver is scarred and permanently damaged by the alcohol you consume. The scar tissue replaces the healthy liver tissue, preventing your liver from working as it should. As the cirrhosis progresses, your liver begins to fail.

Alcoholic liver disease is life threatening and will show as physical signs of alcoholism. You may have dark circles under your eyes and your eyes may turn yellow from a condition known as jaundice. You will notice skin rashes on your body as well. These are signs of a dangerous condition that could be fatal if not treated properly.

Gender-Specific Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcoholism damages your physical health and your mental health. When you have developed an alcohol addiction and want to stop drinking, we are here for you. Detox and supervised withdrawal will help you safely process the mental and physical symptoms so you can move forward with a healthy recovery. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who have a desire to turn their life around. Recovery is possible, and we can help.

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