- Depression has a way of making you feel all alone in the world, disconnected from the rest of humanity; fortunately, however, you can object to and resolve these feelings.
- The first matter of business is to understand the relationship between loneliness and depression: loneliness in depression isn’t usually due to the absence of people, but a disconnect from one’s self.
- You can then begin to resolve your lonely feelings by accepting and addressing your depressed pieces—art, dance, and music are all great outlets for doing so.
- Now, push yourself a little harder: challenge yourself to do something of social nature if you haven’t already, such as joining a running group.
- Also, surround yourself with supportive individuals whom you can find solace in when need be.
- Finally, stand up to that devil on your shoulder telling you you’re alone in your loneliness—everyone deals with lonely feelings, of which they must work through.
More often than not, depression and loneliness go hand in hand. (I know, as if that low level of despair wasn’t bad enough.) On top of your sadness, you feel as if you’re all alone in the world—even despite all of your loved ones reaching out and rooting for you. And there appears to be no way out. It seems as if those lonely feelings have taken root and refuse to ever be plucked from the earth. But things aren’t always what they seem, are they? I’m happy to tell you that there is a way to defy depression and work your way out of that hole of loneliness.
The Struggle-Meets-Success Journey
You know better than anyone that depression comes with a lot of baggage—but one prevalent factor is that crippling loneliness, which we’ll begin to lift from your shoulders by improving your understanding of these feelings as related to depression. Melinda Haynes, licensed marriage and family therapist, explains that this feeling of being alone in the world isn’t really related to one’s social circle, but the disconnect to their true self:
“Many depressed people feel lonely, even with friends or in a crowd. That’s because loneliness in depression may not actually be due to the absence of friends, but rather to a separation from our true, authentic self. This separation, or more accurately, rejection, of some parts of self leaves us feeling isolated (hence, lonely). We consciously or subconsciously believe, ‘If I don’t even understand myself, how can anyone else understand me?’ or, ‘I don’t accept myself; why would anyone accept this?’
We can begin to feel less lonely—and actually begin to enjoy our own company—by honoring our broken and depressed pieces. Those pieces are there for a reason and they have a story to tell. Writing, visiting online boards (with caution), art, dance, or music are all ways to let the story be told and heard. Another way to combat the loneliness of depression is to build feelings of competence and self-worth. This is done by taking on new challenges and sticking with them until completion. This struggle-meets-success journey empowers us with mood-boosting brain activity, like the increase in dopamine receptors.”
Stand Up to Loneliness and Other Byproducts of Depression
Now, stand up to loneliness and other byproducts of depression by pushing yourself a little harder, opening yourself to others, and reminding yourself that you aren’t the only one struggling with these feelings. Kelly Bos, psychotherapist and relationship expert, delves into these remedies below:
1) Challenge yourself to do something. Depression makes you feel less motivated and less interested in the things you love most. To fight back against this illness, and the lonely feelings that comes with it, challenge yourself to do something. “When people are feeling depressed, they are less likely to be participating in things that they used to enjoy. It is important for people who are feeling lonely to try and get some of those interests and events back in their calendar, especially activities that are social in nature,” Bos explains. “If you like running, join a running group; if you enjoy painting, see if there is a class you can attend. Additionally, when you start to work towards these goals, set yourself up for success by starting small and adding to the length or frequency as you get more comfortable.”
2) Consult a support network. Oftentimes, depressed individuals also feel disconnected from others, even family and close friends. That being said, it’s important to push yourself to open up about how you feel and consult a support system. “Individuals feeling lonely will greatly benefit from a support network. This could entail friends and families, seeing a therapist, joining a psycho-educational group around depression, or reaching out to tone’s church or community groups. It is important to be able to talk and feel connected,” says Bos.
3) Defy the devil on your shoulder. Finally, step outside of that gloom and recognize that so many other people are dealing with the same feelings. You are not alone in your loneliness—and that alone should provide some comfort. “People should challenge the negative thoughts that they are the only one experiencing loneliness. It is a common feeling and is even considered a health crisis by many,” Bos explains. “Alone doesn’t equal lonely, nor does being among others ensure you won’t feel lonely. It is important to have perspective on the common humanity involved in loneliness and not be hard or judgmental towards oneself. What can help is to kindly acknowledge that it is a difficult feeling to have but that there are ways to move forward.”