Feeling Lonely

Feeling Lonely & Depressed

Author: Philippa Gold  Editor: Alexander Bentley  Reviewed: Matthew Idle
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Understanding Feeling Lonely

 

Even the most social of us feel lonely at times. We have all felt tinges of loneliness throughout our lives at different points and this often feels like depression. We likely even felt the feeling before we knew what it was called. Loneliness is not uncommon and you are likely not the only person you know currently feeling lonely, but that does not take away the weight of the feelings.

 

Being lonely does not merely mean that you are by yourself. That can obviously be a factor in how you feel, but a lack of quality in your relationships can also result in feelings of loneliness. Loneliness occurs when our social wants and needs are not being met.

 

This can occur from not having any social interactions, but it can also occur from not having quality connections with others that meet our emotional needs. Often  when someone has the feeling of ‘I’m lonely’ it can be a sign of underlying high functioning depression and mental health11.J. Yanguas, S. Pinazo-Henandis and F. J. Tarazona-Santabalbina, The complexity of loneliness – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179015/.

 

Symptoms of Loneliness

 

  • low energy
  • anxiousness, restlessness
  • hopelessness
  • decreased appetite
  • difficult time falling asleep
  • body pains and cold flashes

 

Most of us have experienced loneliness and have said to ourselves “I’m lonely” at many times throughout our lives.  Because of this, many of us have also experienced chronic loneliness as well. Whereas, regular loneliness might be brief feelings that only last a few hours or a few days, chronic loneliness is something that occurs over a long period of time22.P. Cuijpers, A. Stringaris and M. Wolpert, Treatment outcomes for depression: challenges and opportunities – The Lancet Psychiatry, The Lancet Psychiatry.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(20)30036-5/fulltext.

 

Your feelings of loneliness in this scenario do not come for a brief time and then potentially come back a few months later. Chronic loneliness means you bear the weight of that feeling with no sort of break in between.

 

Why am I Feeling Lonely?

 

Feelings of loneliness can come around because of a multitude of reasons. You may have just moved to a new town or city where you do not know anyone. You needed to move for your job, but because you have no social connections in the area, it is difficult to find meaningful social connections outside of work.

 

Work can be a great place for people to make meaningful and long-lasting connections, but not everyone finds someone that they click with well at their place of work. Some might not enjoy hanging out with people from work because it reminds them of work. Feeling lonely because you switched jobs and cities is common.

 

Working from home is also a common cause of feelings of loneliness. Many of us spend the majority of our work week in our place of work. If you work at your home alone, you do not have even small opportunities for minor social interactions. You may also be living alone for the first time.

 

Many college students graduate and move into apartments or homes by themselves for the first time. Not only are they living on their own for the first time in their life, but they are also just coming out of a time in their life where they were constantly surrounded by people their age. It’s more uncommon to NOT feel lonely than it is to feel lonely after that particular life transition.

 

Life Transitions and Feelings of Loneliness

 

Many people feel lonely or chronic loneliness after they have made a life transition, like moving out of your college dormitory into your own apartment. Moving on from romantic or platonic relationships also causes feelings of loneliness.

 

Not only are you dealing with the aftermath of what occurred and caused that relationship to end, but you also have one less or potentially multiple numbers of fewer people that you have the opportunity to interact with now.

 

These are very practical reasons for feeling lonely. These reasons have a simple cause and effect method of appearing and are easy spot. However, there are other reasons you may feel lonely that are more complicated to track down.

 

You may be constantly surrounded by people and friends, but still have that lonely feeling. Your mental health plays a massive part in how we interact and perceive our interactions with others and our mental health, depression, or anxiety may cause you to be nervous or unmotivated to go out and connect with others.

 

Depression is a complicated condition. It can be both the cause and the effect in cycles of loneliness. Your loneliness may cause feelings of depression and depression may cause you to isolate yourself and therefore bring on feelings of loneliness. It is a vicious and frustrating cycle. But it is not uncommon and anyone that feels this way is not alone.

 

Steps to Stop Feelings of Loneliness

 

Many people, depending on their personality type, may need a break from spending time with others. This is usually time spent recharging and relaxing before future social interactions. Some people do not need this at all and some people need a lot of rest and recharge time before they are ready to go out and mingle with others. Both are okay and just depend on you and your personality.

 

Loneliness comes in when we surpass the amount of time needed to spend alone to recharge. Maybe some social anxiety snuck in while we were taking the time to recharge and it moved out of our control. Maybe we’ve been stuck in a cycle of chronic loneliness for a very long time. Whatever the case, there are ways you can escape this cycle and there are plenty of resources and experts who can help.

 

Ways to Treat Feelings of Loneliness

 

Speak to a professional

 

Whether your situation involves brief feelings of loneliness or a chronic cycle of loneliness, there are people who have been trained to help you move forward. Press Here to help find a Counselor who can help

 

Allow yourself to feel lonely

 

Admit to yourself that you are lonely. It is a common feeling and there is no shame in feeling it.  Saying “I’m lonely” out loud to yourself can help motivate you to put a plan in action to help alleviate these feelings.

 

Hobbies & Activities

 

Think of a hobby, activity, or anything you enjoy, and remember this: you are not the only person or the first person to enjoy that. The internet is a beautiful thing when it comes to finding like-minded people or others interested in the same things you are.

 

Say Yes More

 

It is ok to say no to social events sometimes, yet if you have had feelings of loneliness and are saying no to invitations, your anxiety may be keeping you from completing the actions you need to take to move out of the loneliness cycle. Say yes to something you would not normally say yes to.

 

Loneliness is complicated and overwhelming. It can be both the cause and effect of many unpleasant feelings but it is not a hopeless experience. There are future friends and professionals out there who can help you. And chances are they have felt the same way you do at some point in their lives as well.

 

Feeling Lonely? Try a Digital Detox

 

One of the most difficult emotional pains to bear is loneliness. Human beings are driven to be social and make connections, our ancestors relied on human connection for survival and protection from predators.

 

In modern life this need is even more present as we struggle with the illusion of connection through social media but we often lack the interpersonal connection that spending time with another person gives us.

 

These connections tell us we matter, we are important and have something valuable to offer the world. When left alone we can often struggle to connect with our true self worth.

 

The feeling of loneliness and depression is often exacerbated by doing the very actions that sound as if they should make us feel better; connecting with others on a social media platform or weighing in on a discussion with a comment. In reality though, these mico-connections are meaningless. No one remembers who liked a photo or a particularly witty comment.

 

Digital detox is one of the newest recovery trends. It offers individuals the chance to break their addictions to technology, screens, and work-related electronic items. Digital detox centers, retreats, and programs are popping up all over the world as more people find it necessary to escape technology for their own mental wellbeing.

 

A digital detox doesn’t have to be extreme in which a person relocates to a desert island for a weekend. It can simply be turning off your devices for a  few days to give someone the space and clarity to reconnect with activities they used to enjoy, or spending time in nature. It could even be a great reason to put yourself out there and meet up with old friends or acquaintances.

 

A break from technology can lead to healthier interpersonal relationships. Smartphones and social media can turn off the communication a person has with loved ones and friends. Putting down the phone can lead to improved communication and stronger bonds being built.

 

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  • 1
    1.J. Yanguas, S. Pinazo-Henandis and F. J. Tarazona-Santabalbina, The complexity of loneliness – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179015/
  • 2
    2.P. Cuijpers, A. Stringaris and M. Wolpert, Treatment outcomes for depression: challenges and opportunities – The Lancet Psychiatry, The Lancet Psychiatry.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(20)30036-5/fulltext
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