Mental health issues due to isolation/loneliness. Find a mental health therapist near you.

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What is loneliness/isolation to you?

Loneliness is a human emotion which is complex and unique to each individual. Loneliness is a state of mind that makes people feel alone, empty and unwanted. Some people who are lonely could crave human contact but it might be difficult for them to make human connections.

For example, a lonely teenage girl struggling to make friends in school has different needs than a lonely middle-aged man who recently lost his wife.

The pandemic has impacted everyone’s mental health. People now are obliged to maintain social distancing and isolation. It is difficult to not feel lonely in these times. However, people do enjoy social isolation occasionally as it’s important to spend time with yourself and understand about your own needs for your mental wellbeing. It could also be relaxing and rejuvenating. I believe people are now trying to get used to the feeling of being all by themselves, which could also be terrifying as social relationships and gatherings are good for your mental health.

What could be the possible causes that make one feel lonely?

The cause of loneliness could be situational. For example, the pandemic, loss of a loved one, moving to a different city or country, going through a bad breakup, etc.

There are also a few psychological factors:

  • Depression
    People who are depressed often withdraw social contact and loss interest in everyday activities which could also mean not getting out of the room which could lead to isolation and loneliness.
  • Social Anxiety
    People who fear being around people could lead to isolation.
  • Low self-esteem
    People who don’t have the confidence to speak to people could lead to isolation.
  • Selective Mutism
    Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain situations like at school, in front of relatives. It usually starts in childhood and if left untreated could persist in adulthood.

    Personality factors such as Introverts, people who like being alone and avoiding social interactions could also lead to loneliness and isolation.

How does loneliness/Isolation affect our mental health?

Loneliness has a negative effect on both physical and mental health. Loneliness is the major symptom of some severe psychological disorders.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Antisocial Behavior
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
  • Increased Stress levels
  • Breast Cancer
  • Poor Decision making
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Poor self-care and self-neglect
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Cognitive decline
  • Altered memory

How to overcome loneliness?

  • Indulge in self-care habits

    1. Follow a routine. Daily routines promote a sense of purpose.
    2. Exercise and stretch every day for at least 20mins
    3. Eat healthy food.
    4. Engage in mindfulness activities like meditating, being in the moment.
    5. Journal your thoughts and write down your daily goals and treat yourself with a reward
    6. Read a book.
    7. Develop a hobby
  • Close friends combat loneliness

    Being around close friends boosts your confidence and makes you feel loved. If in-person contact is not feasible connect through a video call.

  • Therapy

    Do not hesitate to seek professional help and see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Psychotherapies like:

    1. Exposure therapy
    2. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
    3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Tips to prevent loneliness:

  1. Focus on strengthening current relationships with friends and family.
  2. Focus on developing quality relationships.
  3. Join community service or indulge in activities like beach cleaning.
  4. Join a club like a book club or trekking club. This will help to cultivate a hobby.
  5. Accept yourself and the people around you more.
  6. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Do not hesitate to share
  7. Understand that loneliness can cause serious health concerns and can also lead to suicidal ideations.
  8. Be kind and compassionate to yourself and others.
  9. Go to therapy to be more self-aware and understand your own behavioral patterns.
  10. Listen to understand not to react.

If you feel you are depressed, seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist near you.

Also read, Not sure if you need to call a mental health helpline? Find signals to call a mental health helpline.

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