Are You Feeling Lonely? Online Counseling Can Help

By Nicola Kirkpatrick|Updated March 31, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Fawley , LPC

Most people experience loneliness or feel alone at some point in their life, whether or not they have other people to talk to or are surrounded by people. Although people don't always share their thoughts and feelings of loneliness with others, these feelings are nothing to be embarrassed about and are normal to experience. People feel lonely after they have moved to a new place, recently ended a relationship, have grown apart from old friends, and many other reasons. Speaking with someone can help to ease loneliness and can help you better understand why you feel alone. Loneliness is not pathological, meaning there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way. But sometimes, loneliness can be a symptom of a more serious mental health concern, requiring the help of a professional.

Why Do I Have These Lonely Thoughts?

Work With A Professional To Identify The Roots Of Your Feelings

Sometimes feeling lonely is a symptom of other mental health challenges and feelings in your life such as depression or anxiety. It may not matter how many people you actually have in your life; feeling lonely may come from how you perceive your connections with other people. It is even possible to be in a committed relationship and still feel lonely or alone at times. It's important to listen to your feelings, especially when you feel alone.

The two main mental health disorders associated with lonely thoughts and feelings are depression and social anxiety. For those feeling depressed, they might be feeling lonely because they keep people at bay. This may be because they don't want to feel like a burden to others or they don't feel like they have the energy to join in activities. Other symptoms of depression include difficulties with longer focus and concentration, a sense of not belonging and sustained sadness, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in normal activities, and low energy levels.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.

Social anxiety can cause individuals to feel extreme fear, disproportionate to the event at the thought of interacting with other people or taking part in certain types of social situations. This can make meeting new people extremely difficult and can further worsen loneliness. Other symptoms of social anxiety include avoiding social situations to the point where areas of your life are suffering significantly and fearing judgment or others' perceptions of you. If you are experiencing lonely thoughts and feelings along with some of the symptoms above, it is recommended that you speak with a therapist or other mental health professional about your current struggles.

Are you familiar with the phrase "if you don't use it, you lose it"? Interacting with others can be very much like that. The longer you go without connecting with humans, the more difficult it can feel to know how to put yourself out there. You may feel uncomfortable or out of practice making conversation or knowing what to do in social situations, increasing a feeling of loneliness.

Feeling lonely or alone can also be due to a big change in life. Maybe you have grown apart emotionally from people or had a change in your living situation — like empty nest or moving to a new area — which hasn't allowed for making new friends yet. Living in rural areas with few people has been linked to feeling lonelyand isolation. Although time and more opportunities to connect with people may be the key to reducing your symptoms of loneliness, it may be best to speak with someone who understands what you are experiencing. You may consider getting more involved in your community through volunteering or picking up a new interest or activity that encourages interaction with others. It is a bonus if those people share a common interest with you, as similarities can grow your connection. Are you someone who enjoys meeting people in a big group, or do you feel connected more in one-on-one interactions?

It could also be that you are interacting in relationships on more of a surface level and need to develop some relationships in your life that are deeper and more meaningful. It could be that you feel like you have to put a sometimes false self forward to feel accepted. Over time, this can start to feel like people don't know the real you and can contribute to lonely thoughts and a feeling of emptiness.

In the 24-7, 365 age of social media with billions of images and posts posted every day, it can be easy to see relationships that are more surface level or less "real." You may see a friend's posts and think that is their reality — when social media is more of a highlight reel than anything else. You may not have had many friendships or relationships centered around sharing something other than pictures or quick messages with a digital device, leaving you feeling empty and possibly feeling lonely. Remember that true connection takes time and effort and requires both people getting "real" about themselves.

Sometimes, a feeling of deep loneliness can be an indication that you do not have a strong relationship with yourself. That may seem like a strange concept. But when we know who we are, we feel better able to connect with others too. When you have a strong sense of self, you are also likely to enjoy your own company more. In the more extreme, you may have a poor self-concept, meaning you do not see yourself as someone with much to offer others. If you think this could be describing you, a therapist can help you. They will teach you to engage differently with your thoughts and feelings of loneliness, challenge negative self-defeating beliefs, and develop a stronger sense of personal values and goal-driven behavior.

What Can Online Counseling Do?

Work With A Professional To Identify The Roots Of Your Feelings

Some people might be embarrassed about feeling lonely. But feeling lonely is completely normal; it's part of being a human being. We evolved as social creatures, so feeling like you don't belong to a social network can make you feel like an outcast or an unwanted member of society.

Talking with friends or family about what you are feeling may seem difficult for fear of judgement. Because of this, speaking with a professional therapist may be the best option for your feelings. You can be assured that a licensed counselor will keep anything you tell them completely private, and their job is to help understand your feelings, not judge. A therapist will accept how you are feeling — and help you not fight with those thoughts or feelings as you work to improve your situation that is contributing to lonely feelings.

Speaking with a therapist can help you to practice interacting with others, talking about yourself, being more comfortable with letting people get to know you, and knowing you belong. A therapist can help you to identify more of the roots of your lonely feelings and help you to make changes needed to lessen the thoughts that are concerning to you.

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.