How Are Depression And Isolation Connected?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated November 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

The connection between depression and isolation stems from the impact each has on the other. Isolation is a common symptom of depressive disorders. Likewise, ongoing isolation can contribute to or worsen the existence of depression. It may be helpful to be aware that while depression and isolation can exist as separate entities, they are often intertwined.

Feel Like You Need Someone To Talk To?

An Overview Of Depression

Depression is an umbrella term to describe the depressive disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, it is most often used to refer to major depressive disorder (MDD), a severe depressive disorder that is also the most commonly diagnosed. 

Depression can appear without a known reason and causes moderate to severe functional impairments in daily life. This mental health condition can impact a person's mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Depression can have harmful impacts if it persists without treatment. Awareness of depression and all it entails can help people prepare themselves to receive support if they or someone they love is diagnosed. 


There are various symptoms associated with depression. Some of the most common symptoms include but are not limited to, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, and a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Those experiencing depression are also susceptible to weight changes, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text 988 to talk to a crisis provider over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 988 also offers an online chat for those with an internet connection.

Symptoms of depression can vary in degree and often worsen and intensify over time. For this reason, it can be essential to receive treatment early. 


There is no one specific cause of depression. However, various factors are linked to the development of this condition. Environmental and hereditary factors can play a role, as can an individual's brain chemistry or exposure to trauma. It is not uncommon for people to develop depression in situations that cause severe stress. 


Treatment for depression often involves medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and other forms of psychotherapy, is one of the most common and effective treatment methods. Speak to a medical doctor before starting, changing, or stopping a medication. 

An Overview Of Isolation

Isolation can be risky. Humans are inherently social creatures, wired to interact with others. When interaction doesn't occur, or a person is alone for significant periods, various mental and physical health conditions may occur. In the most extreme cases, when someone consistently lacks interactions with others, the brain can begin to manufacture experiences to combat habitual isolation.

Why Do Some People Experience Isolation?

There are many reasons an individual may experience isolation. For example, people may isolate themselves due to being around the wrong people, feeling like an outcast, or believing they are unwanted. 

Not everyone is isolated due to unforeseen or unwanted circumstances. In some cases, when people feel heightened stress, they may alienate themselves. Depression can also cause people to want to isolate themselves from others due to a lack of energy or maladaptive self-beliefs.

The Connection Between Depression And Isolation

Neither depression nor isolation is healthy or conducive to living a healthy, positive, or constructive life. For this reason, various measures are designed to help individuals overcome these challenges. Below are some similarities or connections between depression and isolation to look out for. 

Damage To Interpersonal Relationships

Depression and isolation can change one's outlook on life and relationships. For this reason, interpersonal relationships may experience challenges. Healthy interpersonal relationships are often built on trust, communication, and mutual respect. Some people may take it personally when someone they consider a friend no longer associates with them or loses interest in activities they once enjoyed. 

These people may also miss the signs that someone is living with symptoms of a mental health condition, causing them to act differently. If you have depression, you're not at fault for your symptoms or feelings. Talking to those you love about the reasons you're isolating or acting differently may help them know to support you instead of walking away. 

Low Self-Esteem

An individual who experiences depression and isolation may also have low self-esteem. Depression can cause pessimism and negative thoughts, which might lead to negative self-beliefs. Isolation can have similar effects. After adapting to unhealthy, frequent isolation from others, some people may believe that they are unworthy of being in the company of others or cannot healthily do so. Isolation may also be used as a form of self-punishment. 

Underlying Causes 

Some people experience depression or isolation due to challenges they are experiencing. Not every person who struggles in life will go through depression or isolation, but the likelihood increases due to these events. Furthermore, a consistently stressed or emotionally drained person may struggle to be objective or encourage healthy self-beliefs. 

Life challenges can also increase the vulnerability to depression or isolation. It can be normal to experience a moment outside of your control, but the ability to work through this moment healthily internally can make a difference. 

Unresolved Trauma

There can be scenarios where depression and isolation can manifest as the symptoms of unresolved trauma. If you have experienced a traumatic event or suspect you may have, it can be helpful to discuss this challenge with a professional. Trauma can manifest uniquely in the body and mind and may not be easy to spot at first. 

Feel Like You Need Someone To Talk To?

Finding Support For Depression And Isolation 

Asking for help can be brave when you want to isolate yourself. Believing you must complete every task alone may worsen depression and isolation. Regardless of your strength or capability, humans are social creatures that require support. In some cases, family and friends may be unable to offer the required support. 

If you're experiencing depression and struggle to leave home or ask for help, you can use online therapy platforms like BetterHelp to meet with a provider from home. Online therapy can help you understand the unique challenges that depression, isolation, and other mental health concerns present. When you sign up, you're often matched with a therapist within 48 hours, and you can communicate with your therapist via phone, video, or chat sessions. 

A recent study found that online treatment led to "significant and clinically meaningful improvements in depression and anxiety scores relative to baseline observed post-intervention at 12 weeks and sustained at program month six." These results showcase that online therapy can be as effective as in-person options in treating depression. 


Depression and isolation are often linked, as they can lead to or be caused by one another. If you believe you might be experiencing either of these challenges, consider reaching out for support. You're not alone; a therapist can help you make healthy choices for your future.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone

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.
You don't have to face depression aloneGet Started