Loneliness and Depression

October 14, 2018

Loneliness and depression might walk hand-in-hand, but they are not always mutually exclusive. For example, these two conditions can have several combinations:

  • You can be lonely yet not be depressed
  • You can have depression that has nothing to do with loneliness
  • You can develop depression as a side effect of loneliness

Some additional tenets about depression and loneliness that might surprise you include:

  • Loneliness can occur even when a person is in the midst of friends and family or in a relationship
  • Depression in a person can occur in any setting, situation, or circumstance. Wealth and popularity do not make a person immune to depression. For example, several very successful celebrities have become profoundly depressed and have recently committed suicide
  • It is important to note, however, that loneliness and isolation in itself can lead to situational depression. This might be one of the most easily treated conditions, as solving loneliness is only a matter of meeting new people and making new friends

Depression and Loneliness Defined:

Etymological definition of “Depression:”

According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that “causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” in life in general. Some depression is diagnosed as clinical depression, which is more readily attributed to neurological and/or physiological causes.

Etymological definition of “Loneliness:”

There are two basic definitions of loneliness:

1) sadness because one has no friends or company; or

2) (loneliness of a place) the quality of being unfrequented and remote; a condition of isolation.

Remember that it is possible to feel lonely even when you are in the midst of several people.

A main difference in the two above conditions is that loneliness is generally more treatable than depression.

Effective alternatives to feeling lonely:

The Psychcentral website offers several practical suggestions for dealing with loneliness. This website points out that loneliness is a feeling and not a fact. Many times, our own minds can be our worst enemies. Be proactive and try some of the ten suggestions listed on this page.

Some strategies for handling depression, especially clinical depression:

First and foremost, it is critical to visit a medical doctor who might refer you to not only a psychologist or psychiatrist but also to an effective mental health counselor. All of these professionals can complete inventories of your symptoms and feelings to help diagnose the cause of your depression.

There are many instances of clinical depression that are almost immediately improved by taking oral medications. There can never be enough emphasis that depression always has a catalyst, or a cause, whether it is physiological, situational, or a combination of both. In almost all cases, however, part of a healing regimen for depression almost always includes social interaction with others and a conscientious effort to avoid loneliness.

Suggestions for making social connections that help defeat loneliness and even depression:

Meeting new people comes more easily for some personalities than it does others. The key is to find a like interest wherein you are likely to meet people who share your hobbies or your passions. Here are some examples of places to go and meet people who share similar interests:

  • Check out classes at your local community college or community education facility
  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter, nursing home, hospital, or school
  • Join group sports or activities such as bowling leagues or line dance teams

Getting yourself out to these new places is not as easy for some as it is others. Extroverts often meet new people more readily, but even extroverts need down time to regroup and to be alone. Introverts might find it more difficult to push outside of their comfort zone and meet new people, but studies show that introverts also crave socializing.

Some 21st Century Opportunities:

Now let’s examine some options for those of you who may be seeking companionship, but you do not know how to easily meet new people. This is especially true if you are new in town and haven’t had a chance to make new friends.

Here is one helpful solution: Just Happy Hours is a new website and app wherein people can defeat loneliness by just signing up and finding out where others are meeting to hang out and socialize. The site is not a dating website and it is also not a networking site for building a professional portfolio. It is, as the title simply says, an app that will let you literally sign up to show up at a local restaurant, bar, or other public location, meet new people, have a drink and/or a bite to eat, and leave when you are ready. It’s that simple.

Regardless of what avenues you decide to take in battling loneliness and depression, the key is to do something! This article in Psychology Today makes a very direct statement about how unhealthy these two conditions can be. Never, ever allow yourself to think that depression has a negative stigma attached to it; we are all human and everyone has at times in their lives felt either lonely, depressed, or both. So don’t give in to the experience of loneliness; just get out there!