Social isolation is defined as having little or no contact with other people. It usually lasts for extended periods of time. Social isolation is different from loneliness, in that loneliness is a state of emotion that is felt by individuals who are not satisfied with their social connections. Therefore, a person who is experiencing social isolation does not always experience loneliness, especially in cases where social isolation is voluntary. In addition, loneliness can also be temporary, whereas social isolation can lasts anywhere from a few weeks to years.
There are several causes of social isolation. Some people voluntarily choose to isolate themselves from others. For example, an eccentric person may choose to have very little contact with other people. However, in most cases, social isolation is involuntary.