Loneliness is a complex emotion – as there is no single cause for the feeling. Besides, what exactly leads to loneliness is unknown. But it is a damaging state of mind – that can affect your health and well-being.
Loneliness is the perception of social isolation or the subjective feeling of being lonely.1 Loneliness can be a state of solitude or feeling alone. In most cases, it may cause people to feel unwanted or empty. A lonely person may crave human contact – but the state of mind is not stable to connect.
The condition is often associated with despair, isolation, wariness, and poor social skills. According to experts, loneliness is not about being alone – it is about the state you feel in your mind. For example, you might feel lonely in a group of ten people – so that is your state.
Before the Pandemic more than 28% of those who lived alone reported loneliness. But after the Pandemic, more than 67% of those who lived alone felt lonelier.
However, there is a difference between being a hermit and being alone. You can stay alone – and still be happy, but it depends on how you perceive your emotions. Solitude and loneliness are two different things, so let us understand further.
Loneliness vs. Solitude
Isolation and loneliness can be detrimental to physical and mental health – but seclusion is not the same as loneliness. Solitude has many health benefits – including rejuvenation. When you spend time alone – it helps you recharge and prepare your mind for new challenges.
- Loneliness is a feeling of complete isolation despite spending time with people around you. At times, it is perceived by separation or social rejection. In the state, you’re unable to feel good irrespective of the situation. It is a perception of lack of connection.
- On the other hand, solitude is a voluntary state. People enjoy their company and spending alone time. But their state of mind is positive – and they might take a voluntary break to rejuvenate.
- Solitude can help you maintain a social relationship – despite being alone. It is a state that will help you return when you crave connections. In short, the interactions are balanced in periods of alone time. Solitude is accompanied by the subjective experience of enjoying your own company.
Is Loneliness a Mental Health Problem?
Loneliness is not a mental health issue – but there is a connection between the two. Having mental health problems increases your chances of feeling alone. For example, most people who have anxiety attacks or are unhappy tend to feel lonely.
Besides depression, social anxiety can lead to loneliness. You may find it difficult to engage in daily activities involving people, which could lead to loneliness.
Feeling lonely can impact your mental health. A clinical study suggests that loneliness is linked with an increased risk of low self-esteem or depression. Often depression isolates you from people, which could result in loneliness.
Causes of Loneliness
As stated above – there are no causes that can differentiate the condition. But it depends on situational variables like – location, physical isolation, trauma, divorce, etc. Also, the death of someone significant in life could trigger the feeling of loneliness. A physiological disorder like – sadness is one cause of loneliness.
At times, it can be caused by internal factors like loss of self-worth or low confidence. People who lack confidence often believe that they aren’t worthy of attention, which leads to isolation and loneliness.
Personality traits also play a role. For example, introverts are not able to connect quickly and often face social isolation, which leads to loneliness. Apart from this, many contributing factors cause the condition like – rejection in love or job.
Health Risks Associated With Loneliness
Not only mental – but the condition also has many physical implications in the body. Most people suffer from alerted brain function – when they feel lonely – and some even resort to drug misuse. It is associated with stress, which increases with time and causes cardiovascular diseases and heart problems.
It causes decreased memory function and learning – and at times, contributes to Alzheimer’s disease progression. For example, elders who feel lonely often suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, it causes depression and poor decision-making. The condition also disturbs sleep patterns, which causes other health issues in the body.
Tips to Prevent and Overcome Loneliness
You can overcome loneliness – but you will require an effort from your end along with change.
- Lonely people expect the worse – so reverse this and expect the best. Try focusing on positive instead of negative in relationships.
- Recognise that loneliness is an indication – and you need to change your view towards it. You can’t expect things to change overnight as this is a gradual process.
- Start taking small steps to relive your feelings – as that will make you feel better.
- Consider any physical activity or community service you enjoy. Try meeting new people and cultivating new friendships, increasing social interactions.
- Understand there may be mental and physical repercussions of loneliness. If you recognise your symptoms, you need to make a conscious change to overcome them.
- Strengthen your current relationships in life. Building new connections and meeting new people is vital – but it is also vital to strengthen your relationships. Try calling an old friend or a family member and start talking.
- As a part of your effort – you can join a group or start your meet-up group. Besides, you can also join a class in a nearby community college or a book club.
- Reach out to a person you trust and talk your heart out. You need to understand that talking can help to relieve the pain – it will make a difference in the way you feel.
Online therapy or online counseling is the best option to trounce loneliness. It allows you to connect with a therapist – whenever you are sad or feeling lonely.
Online Counselling for Loneliness
Loneliness can leave you feeling disconnected and completely isolated from others. It can have serious health implications on your mind and body. So, it’s vital to reach out to a trusted therapist and overcome your condition.
It can be challenging to reaching out to old friends and family at times. If you are in such a situation, online counselling can help you gain back the confidence to rebuild relationships and cure chronic loneliness. Therapists on the TickTalkTo app can help you overcome loneliness. They have helped thousands of people just like you who are struggling with loneliness. Take control of your life now by speaking with a therapist now. Start feeling better with TickTalkTo.