If you are constantly dealing with feeling depressed and lonely, you are not alone.
Feeling sad and alone is something many people experience at one point in their life or another.
If you feel depressed and lonely, it is reassuring to know it is something you can overcome.
It is important to remember that depression and loneliness should not be your default states—you deserve to be fulfilled and happy, and there are certain strategies you can take to achieve those states.
Are Depression and Loneliness Linked?
Depression and loneliness are considered to be closely linked.
However, they are not the same.
Depression is defined as a diagnosable mental health condition.
Persistent feelings of sadness typically characterize this mental health condition.
On the other hand, loneliness is a subjective feeling of isolation.
In loneliness, the level of social contact is not frequent as that of most people.
When you are lonely, and you don’t take the needed steps to address your loneliness, there is a chance that you can also increase your chance of experiencing depression and other mental health issues.
Typically, a person will feel lonely and alone when their relationships lack authenticity, intimacy, and intensity.
If you feel isolated and lonely, it is reassuring to know that it is something you can minimize and do something about.
Feeling Depressed and Alone? The Possible Causes
Many individuals experience loneliness that leads to depression for various reasons.
Loneliness and depression are caused by a combination of factors at play.
Some factors include a stressful time in your life (i.e., long working hours or a difficult examination at school), physical isolation from other people, and other significant changes (i.e., moving to a new place or divorce).
Some of the primary causes of loneliness include:
- Experiencing an addiction or mental health condition (particularly if it stays unaddressed)
- Experiencing a traumatic life event
- Losing someone close
- Ending a relationship or getting a divorce
- Changing jobs
- Retiring or becoming unemployed
- Entering higher education or changing school, university, or college
- Relocating to an area away from friends, family, or colleagues
- Going through seasonal events like anniversaries, birthdays, or Christmas
There are also various reasons why people experience depression. Most of the reasons for depression overlap with the causes of loneliness. Some of the reasons for depression include:
- Certain personality traits like having low self-esteem and being too self-critical
- Previous experiences with mental health issues
- A family history of depression (and other mental health problems/issues)
- Struggling with chronic or serious physical health problems
- Going through distressing life issues like losing someone, getting a divorce, or becoming unemployed
- Experiencing trauma (especially during childhood)
How to Cope with Depression
When you are suffering from depression, there are different ways you can take control of your life and manage the condition.
For instance, you can make a few significant lifestyle changes to boost your mood and manage some symptoms, including low self-esteem.
Below are some of the most effective ways you can manage and deal with depression:
Working with a therapist is considered a crucial element of successfully managing depression.
Psychotherapy focuses on helping patients adjust their lifestyles to cope with stressors and minimize their stress.
One of the many issues you can address through therapy is practicing stress management, switching from negative to positive thinking, and improving your self-esteem.
Keeping a journal is considered one of the ways you can manage depression.
Journalling can help you relieve some stress by putting down your feelings, thoughts, concerns, and worries in writing.
However, you must be totally honest when you write in your private journal.
Writing down your challenges and feelings can help you effectively release some pent-up emotions.
You will be amazed by how better you will feel after you put pen to paper, even for just a few minutes each day.
People with depression often have low self-esteem, so finding ways to feel better about themselves is considered an integral part of the treatment.
Those who are depressed need to develop positive thinking and improve their self-esteem by focusing their thoughts on their best qualities.
If your self-esteem can use some boost, you can also make a few lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, eating healthy, and spending time with positive friends and loved ones who make you feel good about yourself.
Creating and adhering to a regular and healthy routine can also help your depression.
In many patients with depression, their motivation drops dramatically.
When this happens, they often feel unproductive, and their low self-esteem will often hit an all-time low.
In line with this, schedule activities you can do every day, make sure that it’s something you truly enjoy and aim to have as much balance in your life as possible.
If you are feeling depressed, you tend to withdraw socially and just keep to yourself, either because you lack interest or your self-esteem is just too low.
Experts maintain that having a social life is crucial and can help you live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Make time to be with your friends and enjoy planning fun activities with them.
Social connections have been known to help, so you don’t spiral downward and deeper into depression.
Isolating yourself and spending time alone with your negative thoughts won’t get you anywhere.
Have coffee, jog or walk, go to the movies, and catch up with some friends—anything that can help lift your spirits.
Lean on Others
Trusted friends and family can help you feel good again when depression brings you down.
Don’t think twice about leaning on your loved ones and friends when you need them.
Trusted friends and family can encourage you to exercise, eat healthily, follow your treatment plan, and take care of yourself properly—all important steps that can help you feel better.
You can also join support groups for people with depression to talk to people who are going through the same struggles.
Getting sufficient sleep each night can do wonders for your mood.
People with depression often have significant sleep disturbances—either lack or sleep too much.
Make it a point to go to bed early and observe a regular schedule.
One rule to always remember: never skimp on your sleep.
Lacking sleep and feeling run down can exacerbate the symptoms of depression and can make it more difficult to get exercise, socialize, and manage stress.
What to Do If You are Feeling Lonely
Loneliness is considered a normal human experience.
Surprisingly, people can still feel lonely even in a room full of people.
When you don’t feel like you can connect with anyone or that no one understands you, you can feel completely alone even if you are in the company of family and friends.
Loneliness can include changes that result in social isolation, like grieving a death, moving to a new place, or ending a relationship.
Some studies revealed that loneliness could be just as detrimental to your health as smoking 15 sticks of cigarettes daily!
Loneliness is also associated with cognitive decline and the risk of developing some major psychiatric disorders.
If you are feeling lonely, you must healthily address them.
Below are some of the things you can do to manage loneliness:
Acknowledge Your Loneliness
Don’t waste your time and energy trying to suppress or fight your feelings or emotions.
Loneliness is normal, and everyone experiences them at one point or another.
Feeling lonely does not mean you are a loser.
It also does not mean that you are weak.
It only means that you are human.
Some studies indicate that labeling your feelings can minimize their intensity.
This also means simply putting a name to your loneliness can help your brain make sense of what and how you are feeling and can help you feel a little less lonely.
Create a Plan
What is the best way to address your feelings of loneliness?
Should you solve the problem by connecting with someone?
Or should you work on how you feel about the problem by taking care of your emotions?
Another approach you can use to address loneliness would be to think about how you feel about loneliness rather than trying so hard to connect with others.
You can also consider using healthy coping strategies to help you feel better.
Knitting, drawing, and gardening are just a few examples of solitary activities that can help you deal with your loneliness in a great and healthy way.
Connect with Old Friends
It is sometimes easier to connect with old friends than make new ones.
If you are feeling lonely, consider reaching out to old friends from the past.
Reach out and see how you can reconnect.
Reminiscing with old friends about the old times might also help you feel joyful and better.
It would be a good idea to reach out to old friends through text or social media first, and you can move forward from there.
You must also follow up by connecting via video chat, over the phone, or in person.
Connecting with them face-to-face can help ease your loneliness instead of just connecting through social media or messaging.
Join a Club or Group
In addition to connecting with people from your past, it would also be a great idea to connect with new people.
Look for clubs and community activities that are a good fit for you.
There is no shortage of groups and clubs you can join, from community service projects, book clubs, business societies, and hiking groups.
Read a Book
Reading a book can help you get inside the mind and heads of the narrators and the primary characters.
It can also help you gain insight, understand how others think and can help you feel more connected to others.
Opting for a book, you don’t normally read would be a good idea.
There is no shortage of options you can look into, from science-fiction classics to self-help books; reading can help expand your world and make you feel a little less lonely.
Learn Something New
Getting excited about something like a new skill or language can help you feel much better.
It can also help open up your doors to meeting new people.
You can also sign up for classes like karate or cooking class.
You can also look for online courses you can take.
Nowadays, you can take many affordable courses ranging from graphic design to fitness.
Engage in a Hobby
Creative outlets have also been known to help you live in the moment and boost your mood.
A hobby can also help ensure you don’t engage in catastrophic thoughts like you will be alone forever or dwell on negative events from the past, like what someone said or did to you many years ago.
If you don’t have a hobby, make it a priority to find one.
Experiment with different activities, from pottery to fishing, until you find something you like.
It’s not unusual to feel lonely or depressed at times. Whether you are experiencing the occasional bout of depression or loneliness, know that you are not alone, and many people are also experiencing the same thing. The good news is there is no shortage of ways that you can manage feelings of depression and loneliness. You just have to learn to manage them accordingly and not allow those feelings to get the best of you. Eventually, you will find strategies that will work for you as you go along and before long, depression and loneliness will become a thing of the past.