Loneliness is a complex and often misunderstood emotion. For many, loneliness is a transient feeling that comes when they are alone, but quickly subsides when back in the proximity or contact of friends and family. For these people, loneliness is their brain’s natural alarm system designed to persuade them back to the safety and familiarity of their loved ones. But for others, loneliness can be persistent and debilitating.
Loneliness does not necessarily mean a person is physically alone and can even come on in the presence of friends and family close by. Loneliness means a person’s social needs are not being met or perhaps they suffered a trauma such as loss of a loved one, relationship breakup, or simply no longer feeling emotionally connected to the people around them. Often people with these feelings will ‘wait it out’ hoping the emotions pass with time, but they don’t always go away on their own.
Loneliness and Mental Health
Loneliness can feel like a weight on one’s shoulders, holding them down from enjoying life or moving forward. Left untreated, loneliness can lead to further complications such as depression, confidence issues and anxiety disorders. For some, severe loneliness can even come with thoughts of suicide.
Treatment for Loneliness
Loneliness counseling generally involves therapy designed to discover the root cause of the problem. Treatment can include group sessions, finding new hobbies, volunteering or other ways to find constructive and meaningful ways to pass time. Because loneliness can come with thoughts of hopelessness and feeling adrift, finding meaning can bring renewed thoughts of being ‘back on track’ and progressing through life. Ultimately, most people suffering from loneliness want to return to finding pleasure in social situations, and counseling can be the fastest way this can be achieved.
Loneliness and Age
Persistent loneliness in older adults can be especially devastating as they may have lost all the social connections made over a lifetime. Making healthy new relationships can be difficult when paired with the complications of old age such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Loneliness and isolation is one of the leading causes of depression among the elderly. But loneliness can strike the young as well, most commonly when leaving home for college, or a traumatic breakup, or feelings of not fitting into a social structure.
If you or someone you love is suffering with loneliness, reaching out to a loneliness counsellor is the best first step in achieving the mental health and happiness everyone deserves. In a world full of caring and friendly people, finding healthy relationships and ending the feelings of social isolation can be a thing of the past with the right therapy. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our warm and understand staff who are here to help people just like you.