15. You suffer from grief or loneliness
It might come as a surprise that experiencing grief and/or loneliness can actually make you physically sick. If you have lost a loved one, you have to go through the pain of living without them You might be lonely and isolated. The truth is that the chronic stress of grief has a major impact on the body. In fact, prolonged grief can put you at risk of several mental and physical health complications.
If you are in the acute stages of grief, your emotions engage the body’s fight-or-flight response. This is a state of preparedness for fighting an enemy or fleeing. It’s like an alarm has gone off in your body. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released, and your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate go up. Cortisol also alters the way in which our immune system functions. The problem is when you are constantly in this stressed state.
In chronic stress situations such as prolonged grief, these stress hormones can cause disruptions to most of the body’s processes. This puts your health at risk, and can actually shorten your lifespan. Prolonged grief can lead to digestive problems, headaches and migraines, anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, weight gain, memory and concentration problems, and immune system dysfunction. The latter can leave you vulnerable to all sorts of viruses and bacteria doing the rounds.
Even loneliness without grief can cause major damage to your health. The pain of loneliness also activates the fight-or-flight response. Lonely people have been found to have immune systems that work differently. Their white blood cells increase inflammation and are less effective at fighting viruses. Chronic loneliness leads to chronic inflammation. This has been linked to cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and viral infections.