family counseling

Socialization Effects on Mental Health

It’s a known fact that our species are social beings. We evolved by living in communities relying on one-another to help us meet our daily needs like: food, child-care, shelter, safety, and of course emotional well being. Nowadays though, that sense of community seems to have dissipated in our individualistic society. Life get’s busy, we have to work, we have to pay our bills and socialization has become more of a luxury than a daily given. But it truly is essential for our emotional and mental well being to have a supportive network of friends and family to help us through tough times.

Socialization & Brain Chemistry

One of the most calming experiences can be to spend time with people who make you feel loved and understood. Face-to face interaction can counter act our body’s “fight or flight” response by releasing a slew of hormones that elevate our mood. When we socialize with those we love our brain releases “oxytocin” which is a lovely little chemical that boosts mood. Oxytocin is produced by a part of the brain which is instrumental in regulating many of the most basic and necessary physical rhythms of the body: sleep, hunger, thirst, and emotional reaction. Oxytocin has also been shown to be the driving factor in the triggering of another fabulous chemical “Dopamine”. Dopamine release signals feelings of pleasure and supports behaviors we need to survive- such as eating, drinking and procreating.

Socialization & Reduction of Dementia Risks

Building social networks and participating in social activities are like exercises for your brain because they keep your mind agile and improve cognitive function. In a California study published by the American Journal of Public Health, researchers reported that older women who managed large social networks reduced their risk of dementia by 26%. Furthermore, women who had daily contact with their individuals in their social circle cut their risk of dementia by almost half!

Socialization Effects on Depression & Anxiety

Close supportive relationships with friends, family and colleagues act as a buffer to hashes of the real world. They improve our feelings of self-worth, lower our symptoms of depression and anxiety and help us to feel accepted. When you have loved ones to lean on in times of stress and to fill your life with fulfilling activities, you are less likely to struggle with anxiety and depression related symptoms. 

Socialization & Stress

Socializing is just a good way in general to take your mind off the stressors of life. Participating in social activities alleviates pressure, gives us something to look forward to on the hard days and take our mind off of stressors easier than when we do activities alone. 

In Summation

Socialization is a basic NEED. We all need to feel loved and accepted by others. It fuels our brain chemistry; affecting our mood, diet, thought patterns and self-esteem. If you or a loved one need help in becoming more social due to struggling with mental health symptoms, we would be glad to help you get there. Contact our office to see how we can assist you in moving towards the life you want and deserve. 

Stay Shining,

Jamie Vollmoeller, LCSW