Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Can Being Lonely Lead To Depression

Loneliness Is As Lethal As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day

How to Help Someone Who’s Lonely, Isolated, or Depressed

As a social work graduate student, I worked in a medical hospital. One of my projects included studying the “revolving door” patients those individuals who came into the emergency room on a regular basis.

Some of these patients came into the hospital for chronic issues, such as back pain and breathing difficulties. I identified the patients who lived alone. With their permission, I began calling them on a regular basis to check on them.

Sometimes they wanted to talk about their health. At other times, they wanted to share stories about the past. I allowed them to talk about whatever they wanted and just listened.

Then, we tracked their emergency room visits. Once the calls began, their hospital visits were greatly reduced.

I think there were two reasons those phone calls reduced their visits to the hospital: they felt less lonely, which helped them feel better physically, and feeling connected with someone meant they were less likely to go to the emergency room simply to have human contact.

That was just a graduate school project with a small sample, and not exactly a peer-reviewed study. But it did give the hospital some interesting feedback about how they might be able to support some of their frequent emergency room visitors.

Clearly, loneliness is a big problem that can lead to a variety of physical health issues, psychological problems, and societal issues.

The Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

Why Loneliness Is Harmful

How Loneliness Can Lead To Depression

Humans are social beings that need interaction with others to thrive. Satisfying social relationships are essential for your mental and physical well-being. Loneliness can lead to several different mental and physical disorders such as:

  • depression
  • diabetes
  • rheumatoid arthritis

Loneliness increases the amount of cortisol, also known as a stress hormone. Higher levels of cortisol can raise your risk of contracting many of the health issues listed above.

Loneliness is a negative emotion and negative emotions play an important role in the development and maintenance of psychopathology as outlined in a study titled The Effect of Loneliness on Depression A Meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry.

Lonely people typically have more negative interactions and anticipate rejection. When you are lonely and isolate yourself as a coping mechanism, it can contribute to the development of major depressive disorder . Lonely people are more likely to develop depression because they are likely to have low self-esteem, difficulty or the inability to maintain relationships, poor problem-solving skills, and a negative conception of themselves.

Effects Of Physical Distancing

Some effects of social isolation are specific to pandemics or other public health situations that require people to physically distance. Loneliness and depression can go hand in hand with anxiety and fear about the dangers associated with the event that made physical distancing measures necessary.

Plus, people sometimes experience anger and resentment about health and safety measures they find unnecessary or too restrictive. Even people who are supportive of safety-related isolation and quarantine can experience frustration and irritability.

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Why Am I Feeling Lonely And Depressed

People experience loneliness, leading to depression, for a number of different reasons.

When it comes to loneliness, a person will typically feel alone when the relationships in their life lack the intensity, intimacy and authenticity that they need to feel content. This can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Losing someone close to you
  • Getting a divorce or ending a relationship
  • Retiring, becoming unemployed or changing jobs
  • Entering higher education or changing your school, college or university
  • Relocating to an area away from family, friends and colleagues
  • Going through seasonal events such as Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries
  • Experiencing a traumatic life event, particularly if it remains unaddressed
  • Experiencing a mental health condition or addiction, particularly if it remains unaddressed

There are also many reasons as to why people experience depression, many of which overlap with what can cause loneliness. These can include the following:

  • Experiencing trauma, especially during childhood
  • Going through a distressing life event such as losing your job, getting a divorce or losing someone you love
  • Struggling with serious and/or chronic physical health problems
  • Having a family history of depression or other mental health problems
  • Having previous experiences with mental health problems
  • Having certain personality traits such as being very self-critical or having low self-esteem

Psychiatric Disorders And Loneliness

Biological Factors that Leads to Episodes of Depression ...
  • Alcoholism: Loneliness is recognized as a contributing, maintaining and poor prognostic factor in the development of alcohol abuse. Further it is recognized as an essential risk factor in all the stages of alcoholism . Various studies have demonstrated lonely people with heavy drinking are more vulnerable to alcohol related problems. The reasons attributed to this are due to lack of social support, and distinct perceptions of community pressure . However presently in India as well as in the world, there are no studies which compares loneliness in alcoholics with loneliness in nonalcoholic .

  • Bereavement: Loneliness is expected when people grieve the loss of someone to whom they were closely attached. Widows express loneliness usually with the absence of a spouse or a social support. Various studies report 86% of widows experience loneliness, however the proportion decreases with increasing number of children and with the support system. It must be noted that loneliness in grief is associated with acute absence of an attachment figure, rather than absence of a social support. Further loneliness in bereavement is in itself a risk factor for the development of depression .

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    Transient Vs Chronic Loneliness

    Another important typology of loneliness focuses on the time perspective. In this respect, loneliness can be viewed as either transient or chronic.

    Transient loneliness is temporary in nature generally it is easily relieved. Chronic loneliness is more permanent and not easily relieved. For example, when a person is sick and cannot socialize with friends, this would be a case of transient loneliness. Once the person got better it would be easy for them to alleviate their loneliness. A person with long term feelings of loneliness regardless of if they are at a family gathering or with friends is experiencing chronic loneliness.

    Treatment Of Chronic Loneliness

    Talk to your doctor or another health care provider so they can help. If you are dealing with chronic loneliness, it isnât just about feeling alone. If left unchecked, it can put you at risk for serious emotional and physical issues.

    The sooner you reach out, the faster you can get help and get on the road to recovery.

    Show Sources

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    Lack Of Meaningful Relationships

    For many people the family of origin did not offer the trust building relationships needed to build a reference that lasts a lifetime and even in memory after the passing of a loved one. This can be due to parenting style, traditions, mental health issues including personality disorders and abusive family environments. Sometimes religious shunning is also present.

    This impacts the ability of individuals to know themselves, to value themselves and to relate to others or to do so with great difficulty.

    All these factors and many others are overlooked by the standard medical or psychological advice that recommends to go meet friends, family and to socialise. This isn’t always possible when there is no one available to relate to and an inability to connect without the skills and knowledge on how to proceed. With time a person might become discouraged or develop apathy from numerous trials, failures or rejections brought on by the lack of interpersonal skills.

    As the rate of loneliness increases yearly among people of every age group and more so in the elderly, with known detrimental physical and psychological effects, there is a need to find new ways to connect people with each other and especially so at a time when a whole lot of the human attention is focused on electronic devices, it is a challenge.

    Loneliness: Causes And Health Consequences

    ( TFL/ Incel)When loneliness leads to DEPRESSION

    Loneliness is a universal human emotion that is both complex and unique to each individual. Because it has no single common cause, the prevention and treatment of this potentially damaging state of mind can vary dramatically.

    For example, a lonely child who struggles to make friends at school has different needs than a lonely older adult whose spouse has recently died.

    This article discusses what we mean by the term “lonely,” as well as the various causes, health consequences, symptoms, and potential treatments for loneliness.

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    Is Loneliness A Mental Health Problem

    Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely.

    For example, some people may have misconceptions about what certain mental health problems mean, so you may find it difficult to speak to them about your problems .

    Or you may experience social phobia also known as social anxiety and find it difficult to engage in everyday activities involving other people, which could lead to a lack of meaningful social contact and cause feelings of loneliness.

    “I want to be able to interact with people and make new connections but my anxiety feels like an invisible barrier that I can’t break through.”

    Feeling lonely can also have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.

    “My anxiety and depression isolates me from people, stops me from being able to do the things I’d like to do so socially it cuts me off.”

    Loneliness Is Strongly Linked To Depression Among Older Adults A Long

    Depression is a major public health problem that is growing worldwide. The causes are complex and vary from person to person. However, new research estimates that up to one in five cases of depression among older adults could be prevented by reducing loneliness. The study therefore has important public health implications, highlighting the need for comprehensive action across society to combat loneliness.

    This is the first large, long-term study to investigate the link between loneliness and depression in people aged 50 or older. It confirms that feeling lonely is associated with an increased risk of future depression. The link exists irrespective of other related social experiences and exists even among people who are not socially isolated or who feel socially supported. After experiencing loneliness, the risk of depression persists for up to 12 years.

    Loneliness can be changed or controlled, unlike other risk factors for depression, such as our genes. But previous studies looking at the relationship between loneliness and depression have so far been inconclusive.

    This research supports the implementation of the Governments strategy for tackling loneliness in England, which launched in 2018 and has become particularly relevant following lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic.

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    Health Risks Associated With Loneliness

    Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:

    • Alcohol and drug misuse
    • Increased stress levels
    • Poor decision-making

    If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

    For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

    These are not the only areas in which loneliness takes its toll. For example, lonely adults get less exercise than those who are not lonely. Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue. Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of cellular processes deep within the body, predisposing lonely people to premature aging.

    Limitations And Future Directions

    Living Alone Can Lead To Depression

    Although this study was conducive to understanding the relationship between loneliness and depression in Chinese students, there were still some limitations. First, this study was a cross-sectional study, and its results could not provide a causal relationship. Therefore, further research could explore the causal relationship between these variables through experiments or longitudinal studies, such as loneliness and depression. Another limitation was that the questionnaire survey used in this study may cause some errors. For example, self-reported questionnaires were influenced by social desirability. Hence, further research may apply more professional surveys to directly record time spent, eliminating coding data errors and controlling the answers at random. In addition, the convenience sampling may limit the generalizability of the result, so if there is an opportunity, we will expand the sample and increase the randomization level of the sample. What is more, other mediators of the relationship between loneliness and depression , as well as how social network use and internet gaming disorders predict depression, and how the two-way relationship needs to be explored. Last but not least, this study was conducted in the context of Chinese culture, so the cross-cultural applicability of the conclusions must be further verified.

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    Healthy Life Strong Mind

    Get a Pet

    Therapy animals are more common now than ever before, and many studies suggest that they are useful in treating the symptoms of anxiety. Having an animal-usually referred to as a Therapy Animal and Emotional Support Animal-to care for, hold onto, and come home to can make the isolation that often accompanies these conditions to lessen, and can give you a renewed sense of purpose.

    Seek Help

    Although many insurance providers are hesitant to work with online providers, more and more companies are making the change to offer online therapists as part of their networks. If your insurance does not cover online therapy, this does not have to be a major deterrent because therapists are not paying for the space to deliver in-person therapy, some may offer their services for lower prices, making online therapy a realistic, affordable option for many people. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues of depression and loneliness.

    Therapist Reviews

    Patricia is excellent, very knowledgeable, empathetic, and helpful. Her professionalism helped make my journey less lonely, and gave me so much more clarity.”

    Moving Forward

    Show Yourself Compassion And Kindness

    You might have some flaws, and you might make mistakes. But so does every other person on the planet. Yes, even that one person who seems to always have it together.

    Reminding yourself of these facts can often help you treat yourself with kindness instead of disgust. Replacing self-criticism with positive self-talk can help you believe you deserve love and friendship and make it more likely youll actively seek these things out.

    If you struggle with self-compassion, try imagining what you might say to a friend whos judging themselves harshly. Youd probably remind them of their strengths and positive qualities, right?

    Try affirming yourself in the same way to boost feelings of worthiness and positive self-regard a stronger sense of self-worth can pave the way toward more meaningful relationships.

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    Dealing With Depression And Loneliness

    No matter how many people are around you or in your life, depression can still bring loneliness. Try these tips to reconnect and break free of the isolation of depression.

    Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but for some, loneliness comes far too often. Feeling lonely can plague many people including the elderly, people who are isolated, and those with depression with symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and withdrawal. Loneliness can strike a person who lives alone or someone who lives in a house filled with people. Loneliness is subjective, says Louise Hawkley, PhD, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago. You cant argue with someone who says theyre lonely.

    Although depression doesnt always lead to loneliness, feeling lonely is often a predictor of depression one year or even two years later, and it certainly leads to sadness, Dr. Hawkley says. Freeing yourself of feelings like being isolated by depression is part of the healing process.

    How to Fight Depression and Loneliness

    Feelings of loneliness dont have to be constant to call for action, but you will need to give yourself a push to get back into the thick of life and re-engage with others to start feeling better. These strategies for fighting depression and loneliness can help:

    What You Can Do To Help Yourself

    True Forced Loneliness can lead to depression and ultimately suicide

    Here are some of the best ways to tackle the issue of loneliness. Some of their best tips include:

    • Make a plan. Dont just let yourself fall victim to loneliness. Come up with a full plan of how youre going to combat it. That includes making sure you stay physically and socially active, as well as building a support network around you.
    • Find people like you. Newsflash, youre definitely not the only person feeling cut-off or lonely. Reach out to other people in a similar position by looking on online forums. Hearing their experiences might help you open up.
    • Take socialising slowly. Dont expect a full group of people to instantly warm to you especially if theyve all known each other for longer than you. Take it event by event, until you eventually feel like a real part of the group.
    • Be kind. When you do get the chance to socialise, make sure to be kind. That doesnt mean doing people a load of favours. Just be open, honest, and try not to be too negative or scathing with your comments.

    The connection between mental health and loneliness is a complex one. But whatever stage of the process youre in, always remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it might seem in the moment.

    Geoffrey Aldis is a freelance writer.

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