The Vicious Cycle Of Loneliness and Depression: How To Escape the Loop
By: Corrina Horne
Updated August 27, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Juan Angel
"Lonely" is a word most people are familiar with. Although loneliness is usually associated with actually being alone, you can be surrounded by people you know and love, and still feel the sting of depression and loneliness. Rather than being a measure of physical isolation, loneliness describes a feeling of being alone. This feeling may crop up because you don't feel as though the people around you understand you, because you feel that you can never really be yourself, or because you don't feel that you can find people you want to be around.
Feelings of depression or loneliness are often treated as something of a taboo subject, as though people who are lonely are in some way deficient or broken. Despite this perception-and the frequent tendency to apply it primarily to ourselves-everyone has experienced feelings of loneliness at some point or another, and physical beauty, success, and other standard markers of attractiveness are not necessarily indicative of a person's feelings (or lack) of loneliness.
What Is Depression?
Depression is usually characterized by feelings of despair, overwhelm, apathy, and (in some cases) sadness, accompanied by changes in weight (loss or gain), disrupted sleep, and increased irritability, anger, or confusion. These symptoms can all come on at once, or may develop separately, leading some people to develop a sense of normalcy after each new symptom has arrived. Over time, the symptoms of depression can reach pitches that make day-to-day functioning almost impossible, resulting in the need for treatment.
Breaking the Cycle
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 depression and loneliness, 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.
Healthy Life, Strong Mind
Lifestyle interventions also have a demonstrable history of efficacy in treating people with depression and loneliness, in turn, as improving your diet, creating exercise regimens, and engaging in mindfulness practices can all improve your mental and physical health as a whole, which can positively impact your depressive symptoms. These interventions are not usually severe or dramatic, and can include changes as small as limiting caffeine intake, and exercising 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week.
Get a Pet
Therapy animals are more common now than ever before, and many studies suggest that they are useful in treating the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Having an animal-usually referred to as a Therapy Animal or Emotional Support Animal-to care for, hold onto, and come home to can make the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies these conditions to lessen, and can give you a renewed sense of purpose.
Although many insurance providers are hesitant to work with online providers, more and more companies are making the change to offer online therapists as part of their networks. If your insurance does not cover online therapy, this does not have to be a major deterrent; because therapists are not paying for the space to deliver in-person therapy, some may offer their services for lower prices, making online therapy a realistic, affordable option for many people. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues of depression and loneliness.
"Patricia is excellent, very knowledgeable, empathetic, and helpful. Her professionalism helped make my journey less lonely, and gave me so much more clarity."
"Her balance between empathy and perseverance have kept me focused on my goals without burning out. She has stayed with me as I go through life and overcame obstacles. As I maneuver through difficulties, Krista has made the experience a little bit easier, less lonely, and something of a challenge to overcome rather than a reason to be stagnant… Krista really understands my values and aspirations. She encourages me to pursue my passion and chase my dream no matter the many, long-lasting, face-scrunching hiccups along the way."
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