Human beings are generally social creatures, meaning we can have the capacity to enjoy connection and closeness with our friends and loved ones. It can be normal to feel lonely at times, however, especially when we’re isolated from other people or going through major life changes. Understanding the difference between a passing feeling and a need for intervention can support many in attaining a higher quality of life.
Below, we’re exploring possible reasons for long-term sadness or loneliness, and different scientifically supported ways to address these feelings in ourselves.
Possible Reasons For Feelings Of Sadness And Loneliness
If you’re working on resolving feelings of sadness or loneliness, it can be helpful to figure out what could be causing them. Sometimes, you can make life adjustments on your own that can ease your difficult feelings. Other times, you might benefit from the help of a professional, who can empower you to move forward effectively.
We’ve listed some possible reasons for ongoing loneliness or sadness below:
- Maintaining a lack of social contact
- Having a romantic partner lose interest in your relationship
- Experiencing a difficult or traumatic event
- Experiencing loss or relocation of a loved one
- Dealing with conflict with a loved one
- Experiencing relationship troubles or dysfunction
- Experiencing diagnosis or symptoms of a mental illness, like depression
While this list is extensive, it does not cover every possible reason for sadness or feelings of loneliness. Acknowledging how you feel and accepting possible reasons behind the feeling can be a first step to healing for many.
Lack Of Social Contact
A lack of social activity can cause a person to start experiencing feelings of loneliness. In this case, it can be helpful to seek out social contact and meaningful relationships with your friends and loved ones.
It can be normal to crave social contact if you haven’t been able to connect with people in a while. Having loved ones on whom you can lean when you’re feeling low can be important. According to a recent study referenced in the New York Post, almost half of all Americans reported having less than three close friends in their life. While there are many possible reasons for this, many cite major life transitions — such as the start of a new job or a relocation — as a possible reason for a shorter friend’s list.
If you’re experiencing a major life change, having a solid support system of friends can help you cope with feelings of loneliness. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider reconnecting with old acquaintances or immersing yourself in your local community. You might also try to forge friendships in your workplace school environment, as you may spend more time there than in other places.
Many people might start feeling sad, lonely, and even angry after something traumatic happens in their lives. Coping with stress, grief or the effects of trauma can affect your mood and mental health as a whole. You may just need time to process the situation, or you may benefit from supportive therapeutic intervention. In either case, if you don’t take the time to grieve or feel your emotions in their entirety, your painful emotions might be prolonged.
Reaching out to others for support can be a helpful step in moving forward productively after a loss or traumatic event.
If you are in need of immediate assistance, please reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. A representative can connect with you and help you to determine the next proper course of action for your specific needs.
A Friend Or Family Member Moved Away
You may feel lonely or depressed when someone you’re close to moves away. This can be a common experience for parents who send their kids off to college, or for people whose families move states for a new job opportunity. Major life events such as this can be stressful, often causing someone to experience feelings of sadness and loneliness.
Keeping up through texting, emailing, or phone calls can be a way to enhance your quality of life in the middle of the transition. You may also consider giving yourself time to adjust to their absence.
Conflict With Friends Or Family
Arguments with friends or family members could make you feel lonely and sad, and maybe even a little guilty. Did you have a fight with someone in the past? Perhaps this created a rift that you haven’t been able to mend since the fight occurred. If you don’t have a lot of close relationships, even one argument could wind up being very significant to you and your mental health. Not having your usual confidant with whom to talk could create a sense of emptiness within you that’s hard to shake, and it could be contributing to your loneliness.
To remedy this, you could try to fix and improve things with this individual. It can be natural to disagree from time to time. If the argument was more serious in nature, you may consider speaking with a therapist for support as both parties work through their feelings regarding the disagreement.
If you’re experiencing prolonged or unresolved feelings of loneliness, emptiness or sadness, it could be a sign you’re facing some type of depression.
The difference between someone experiencing a medical condition like depression and someone who isn’t is generally determined by how long the feelings persist, and if there is a secondary physical experience as a result of the feelings.
There are different treatments available for depression. For many, the most commonly pursued options include talk therapy and medication. Speaking with a medical provider or mental health professional can help you get more information about what course of action might be most effective for your specific needs.
You may also be dealing with thoughts of suicide if you are experiencing depression. If that’s the case, it's essential you reach out for support immediately. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This line is available 24/7, and can be reached by dialing 988.
How Can Online Counseling Support Those Experiencing Feelings Of Sadness?
The thought of getting to the root cause of your lonely or sad feelings can feel overwhelming. However, you can begin to process your thoughts and feelings with an online therapist through the BetterHelp platform.
If you’re feeling lonely or sad due to depression, it may be hard for you to overcome these feelings and get out of bed in the morning. You might also be withdrawing from friends and family members or avoiding leaving the house at all. Online therapy can be more approachable for many compared to in-person therapeutic intervention. You can speak with a licensed professional counselor from the comfort of your home, choosing whatever method of connection feels most comfortable for you. Whether you want to use an in-app messaging feature, talk on the phone, or connect over a video chat, online therapy can give you more control over your therapeutic experience.
Is Online Counseling Effective?
Online counseling can help individuals effectively manage and treat their mental illnesses. One study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders assessed the efficacy of computer-based therapy for those living with anxiety and depression. Researchers found information suggesting that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy was equally effective as traditional, face-to-face therapy. The internet-based intervention had high rates of satisfaction and was thought to have contributed to a better quality of life for participants. It was also suggested to result in reduced depression and symptoms of nervousness in fewer sessions compared to those seeing a therapist in person.
Frequently Asked Questions
For examples of questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy, please see below.
What is emotional loneliness?
Is being lonely the same as being sad?
What does loneliness feel like?
What should I do when I am feeling lonely?
Why do I isolate myself?
What to say to a person who feels lonely?
How can you tell if someone is lonely?
How do you make a lonely person happy?
How do I stop isolating myself?
What does it mean when you're always sad?
Is it normal for me to be sad all the time?
How do I stop feeling sad no more?
Does crying get rid of sadness?
Do SAD people sleep longer?
How long are most people depressed?
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