Are You Feeling Lonely? Online Counseling Is Here To Help
Updated June 17, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
Most people feel lonely 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 feelings of loneliness with others, these feelings are nothing to be embarrassed about. People get 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 lonely. Feeling lonely is not pathological, meaning there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way, but sometimes, loneliness can be a symptoms of a more serious mental health issue.
Why Am I Feeling Lonely?
Sometimes loneliness is a symptom of other mental health issues in your life such as depression or anxiety. It may not matter how many people you actually have in your life, loneliness many in fact come from how you perceive your connections with other people. It is even possible to be in a committed relationship and still feel lonely at times.
The two main mental health disorders associated with loneliness are depression and social anxiety. For those who feel depressed, they might feel 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 have the energy to join in activities. Other symptoms of depression include, difficulties with focus and concentration, feelings of hopelessness and sustained sadness, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in normal activities, and low energy levels.
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 feelings of 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 feelings of loneliness 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 term, "if you don't use it, you lost it"? Interacting with others can be very much like that. The longer you go without connecting with others, for whatever reason, 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.
Lonely feelings can also be due to a big change in life where you have grown apart emotionally from people, a change of home situation like empty-nest has occurred or a recent move hasn't allowed for making new friends yet. Living in rural areas with few people has been linked to feelings of loneliness and 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. It may be time for you to consider getting more involved in your community or picking up a new interest or activity that encourages interaction with others. It is an added bonus if those people share a common interest with you, as similarities lend the way to greater connection. Are you someone who gets a greater feeling of connection 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 shallow, surface level and need to develop some relationships in your life that are more deep and meaningful. It could be that you feel like you have to put a sometimes false-self forward to in order to feel accepted. Overtime, this can start to feel like people don't feel know the real you and can contribute to loneliness. In the current age of social media, it can be easier to choose or to be exposed to the types of relationships that are more surface or less "real". You may not have had a lot of opportunity or practice with the kind of relationship that comes with sharing something other than pictures or quick messages with someone. 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 counselor can help you to engage differently with your thoughts and feelings and yourself, challenge negative self-defeating beliefs, and develop a stronger sense of personal values and goal driven behavior.
What Can Online Counseling Do?
Some people might be embarrassed about feeling lonely. Humans 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 may feel difficult for fear they might judge you. Because of this, speaking with a professional counselor may be a better option for you. You should be assured that a licensed counselor will keep anything you tell them completely confidential, and their job is to help, not judge. A counselor will accept your feelings as they are and help you not fight with those feelings as you work to improve your situation that is contributing to loneliness. Speaking with a counselor can help you to practice interacting with others, talking about yourself, and feeling more comfortable with letting people get to know you.
A counselor can help you to identify more of the roots of your feelings and help you to make changes needed to lessen the feelings that are concerning to you.
Online help is available via text messaging, phone calls and video or online chat. Online counseling also allows you to start speaking with someone right away, rather than waiting to receive help from an in-person counselor. No matter when or where you are feeling lonely, setting up an appointment with an online counselor can let you speak with someone at your own convenience. Set up an appointment today to speak with someone and start feeling less lonely.