The Cycle Of Depression Loneliness
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 19, 2018
Depression and loneliness are two words that we all hate to hear. There is just something about them that sounds sad. They are words that we can all identify with, and we have all experienced at one time or another in life. But, one thing that many people don't realize is how connected these two words, depression loneliness, really are to each other.
To understand the way they relate to and play off each other let's first look at the two words separately.
In its simplest form, loneliness is the feeling of being alone. There are different levels and causes of loneliness. The most obvious cause is when you are physically alone. However, there are many other times when you may experience loneliness when you are not physically alone.
You can feel alone when you are with an entire group of people. It could be that you feel out of place, you don't connect with anyone, or you feel like you are completely different than everyone else. It could be that you feel misunderstood. You may experience loneliness when starting a new job or going to a new school. Or, it may be when you have found a new path in life that your friends and family don't understand.
Feeling lonely is a very emotional experience. It is emotionally painful. You may feel that you have no direction in your life. Or, you may feel absolutely nothing, number than anything else. You may feel that you have no control over a situation or your feelings or you may feel overwhelmed by everything.
Whatever the reason is that you feel lonely there is one dangerous place that it can lead you-to depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a considered a mood disorder. It is a type of mental health challenge and unfortunately, it is a fairly common issue. In fact, the percentage of people that deal with depression is continuing to rise. There are many different levels of depression just as there are levels of loneliness. Some people are diagnosed with severe depression. When you are living with this it is hard to function in your daily life.
Depression brings with it all kinds of feelings. People struggling with depression may experience one of these feelings or they may experience all of them. Their feelings may change one day to the next or sometimes even faster than that. Or, they may be stuck dealing with one feeling for long, drawn-out, extended periods of time. Some of these feelings include sadness, overwhelm, worthlessness, irritability, guilt, lack of motivation, fear, numbness, and loneliness.
The Depression Loneliness Cycle
Do you see how each one, depression and loneliness, can lead to each other? There is a cycle when it comes to depression and loneliness. When someone experiences feelings of loneliness they feel bad or sad, which can lead to a struggle with depression. When they feel depressed it makes them want to withdrawal from people which leads to further feelings of loneliness. Then the depression loneliness cycle goes around and around. The more depressed you feel the more you pull away from others which causes you to feel lonely which worsens depression. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
How To Break The Depression Loneliness Cycle
The easiest way to break the cycle is to catch it before it starts. You can put processes into your daily life that will help you keep from circling through the depression loneliness cycle again and again. But, even if you find yourself stuck in the middle of it you can still break the cycle. Here are some suggestions on how to put a stop to the cycle in your life.
Make Real Connections
Being "friends" on social media is not the same as having a meaningful friendship with a person. If we are honest, we know that it's not possible to be close friends with 100 different people. Instead of focusing on growing your social media following work on forming some good connections in "real life."
When you have real friends, you will have people that you can be authentic with. They will be people that you can reach out to when you are feeling lonely or depressed, and they want to help you make it through your struggles. They will also be the people that will reach out to you when they notice you are withdrawing. These are the types of connections that you must work on the building when you are having good days because they will help you through the bad days.
Pick Up The Phone… And Dial It
If you are struggling with loneliness it can help to talk to those good connections that you have in life. Talking helps you to connect further with people. But, don't confuse this with texting or sending a message through Messenger or another app. It's easy to hide when you are struggling when you are not actually speaking to the other person. If you really want to break your cycle of depression loneliness you need to be willing to take action and talk to those in your life that care about you.
There is something about hearing another person's voice that can lift your mood. When you engage in a conversation with someone, it can also help distract you from the problems that you have been focused on or the anxiety that you are experiencing.
Speak To A Counselor
There are sometimes when you can get away with handling your challenges on your own. You may be able to take some small actions and notice that your mood is improving and you are no longer struggling with loneliness or depression. But, there are other times when you will need to get help from a professional.
If you are really struggling and don't feel like you can pull out of your depression or state of loneliness it is important that you ask for help. Better Help has plenty of licensed therapists that would love to help you work through what you are experiencing. They can help you identify where your depression loneliness cycle begins, what triggers it, and how to pull out of it. Many people find that it is easier to talk to a trained professional than to discuss their struggles with someone they know on a personal level.
Get A Pet
If you experience feelings of loneliness sometimes owning a pet can make a big difference. There is a lot of news lately surrounding the use of therapy dogs. These dogs are trained thoroughly and then brought into hospitals or the homes of people that are dealing with physical and/or emotional pain. Dogs can be a great comfort when you are struggling. Their quiet faithfulness is enough to help boost moods and their need to be taken care of can help you have something that keeps you taking action even when you don't feel like it.
While puppies are adorable if you struggle with loneliness and depression it might be more beneficial to get a full grown dog that is already properly trained. The last thing you need is the added stress of a puppy that is chewing up your belongings and having accidents around the house.
Keep A Journal
You can learn a lot from journaling. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day or when you are really going through a difficult moment. Do your best to capture what you are feeling, what led you to feel that way and anything else that is important at the moment. Just work to get down on paper what is in your head at the moment.
Once you have been journaling for an extended period, you can use this journal as a way to help pinpoint triggers in your life. You may be able to identify better what leads to your feelings of loneliness and depression. You may also be able to spot consistencies in what helps you to pull out of it or break your cycle.
Have An Accountability Friend
If loneliness and depression are something that you deal with more than just on the rare occasion it is helpful to have an accountability buddy. This can be a family member or friend that you know you can trust. It is someone that you check in with on a regular basis so they know how you are doing in your journey. If they don't hear from you they will reach out to you. These people often become familiar with your cycle and are able to help you identify when you are struggling before you even realize that you are.
You will be more successful at breaking the depression loneliness cycle if you have others involved in the process. Talking with others during this process will feel like the last thing that you want to do, and that is precisely why it's one of the first things you should do. You do not need to suffer alone; the cycle can be broken.