Loneliness and Health - Interview with Holistic Doctor Gisela Heldt

Gisela Passfoto August 2012_bearbeitet-1

Q: What effect can loneliness take on your health? Can it cause an illness like cancer? Or must there be more?

A: Firstly there is to clarify what one takes for loneliness. Solitude and loneliness are two different things. When you feel lonely there is an inner emptiness, you feel cut out or you feel that nobody loves you. This feeling can also be there if you live in a relationship. But loneliness can also help to form yourself and to help to better handle a special situation. – Loneliness must not take too long, and it should not be the only life situation. Many people think that they get eaten up by loneliness, therefore they take it negative and suffer from the burdening situation. This is why loneliness can cause illnesses. It can take many years until you take a notice. Very seldom somebody finds the source of the illnesses out, usual is not traced back to loneliness.

Q: Is there a bigger risk for lonely people to develop an illness than for people with a rich social life?

A: Yes, there is. Scientists of the University of Chicago did a five years research on people from 50 to 68 years age. After every interviews their blood pressure was taken. And the results were that social isolation can deteriorate physical health. Not immediately, in the first two years the results only changed slightly. In the following years the blood pressure of the lonely people rose considerably. Particularly of these persons who considered themselves lonely.


Q: Are there emergency remedies for the “illness” loneliness?

A: No, there are no emergency remedies, because it takes a while until you find out that loneliness caused the illness. Usual there is no energy left to give up the life in the snail shell. Beyond people who got caught in the loneliness trap very often have no idea how to get out of the situation. People from outside propose something, but the lonely person cannot put it into practice. To be of good support it takes much tenderness and intense care. Very often this (tenderness, patience etc) is already the help. – Everything is much easier for people who “only” have a physical handicap that heals – i.e. a bone fracture. They get a plaster or walking sticks and go back to life.

Q: How can people get in social contact? What can you advise them to find back to society?

A: Everybody can deal with her or his loneliness: those who have only little social contact can join social or political clubs, self-help groups or religious communities. There you will get in contact with many people. – What few people know: eating healthier food effectuates a more harmonic attitude of a person and a more balanced lifestyle. That helps enormously when building new friendships. The more alkaline somebody eats, the more content and the less lonesome she or he will be. It can happen that she or he can suddenly enjoy solitude which is something totally different to loneliness.

Unfortunately it is easier to write this than to put it into practice. The saying “to nip things in the bud” is truth. You have to be aware that the problem arose in the childhood and was not recognized. To be shy as child or as teenager can be the root of all evil. In all situations this can happen to humans, and there must be other humans to live by John Wesley´s motto: “Beyond all love … do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can … To all the people you can. As long as ever you can!” It will take a while and much patience is needed to accompany somebody out of the loneliness.


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