How to deal with loneliness and protect your mental health

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted are the most terrible poverty.

Loneliness is a feeling that many may have felt at some point in life. It can be for various reasons like moving to a new place, lacking companionship, feeling left or disconnected from others around, etc.

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is the state of mind where you feel lonely or experience a need for social connections which does not match reality.

It is not necessarily social isolation. In fact, people can feel lonely even when surrounded by people all the time or in long-term relationships. Being lonely is not the same as being alone.

Loneliness can be understood as involuntary feelings of isolation, rejection, separation, or abandonment.

Lonely people can develop mental health issues like depressive symptoms that can have negative effects on their overall well-being.

What are the causes of loneliness?

Causes of loneliness can vary from person to person. Some common causes of loneliness are the following:

  • Physical Isolation
  • Moving to a new place
  • Death of a close person
  • Divorce or end of a relationship
  • Mental health problems like depression and low self-esteem
  • Personality traits like introversion

What are the symptoms of loneliness?

Loneliness is a complicated feeling which may differ from person to person. Feelings of loneliness are often associated with the following feelings:

  • Sadness, detachment, pain, insecure
  • Feeling isolated or left out
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Feeling misunderstood
  • Feeling lonely even when surrounded by people
  • Longing for connection
  • Social interactions feel exhausting
  • Pondering and reflecting the past events
  • Feeling inferior
  • Difficulty in sleeping

How does loneliness affect our mental health?

Transient or short-term loneliness may be experienced by people in certain instances or situations. Most commonly, they are not harmful in the long run.

Chronic loneliness or long-term loneliness, however, may have some serious effects on both the mental health and physical health of people.

Effects of Loneliness on mental health

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Reduced memory and learning ability

Effects of Loneliness on physical health

  • Suicide
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Usage of drugs

Loneliness FAQs

Loneliness is a clear indication of human connection, and the first step to combat loneliness is to acknowledge your feelings. Make some time to interact with people and build meaningful relationships.

Do something productive and enjoyable, for instance, drawing, dancing, music, cooking, etc. It can help to enhance mood. Get out in the fresh air. For instance, go for a walk in the neighborhood to get some physical activity and enhance your mood. You can also try volunteering.

Lastly, don’t forget to practice gratitude. Try to list at least three reasons to be thankful.

Loneliness can be associated with an increased risk of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, etc., and physical health problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.

To alleviate loneliness or overcome loneliness without a friend, you need to be comfortable and enjoy your own company. Do something that brings your joy and boosts your mood. Understand that not every person is born with social skills; however, they can be practiced and improved over time.

Engage in things you enjoy and try striking conversations with people who share similar socializing skills. It can help you develop connections and improve your social skills.

Talk to a family member to seek support or a therapist to seek guidance to overcome loneliness.

Feelings of loneliness are not the same for every person feeling loneliness. For most people, loneliness feels like social isolation, being separated or left out, a lack of social support, and being unable to develop a deeper level of connection with others.

Dealing with loneliness and rejection can be tough but possible. Take a step back to recognize your feelings and accept the rejection. Understand that rejection may not always be your fault. Sometimes it can even be a result of a difference in perspectives, situations, personalities, or skills.

Try to see the brighter side and pick any lessons from the rejection. Understand that rejections are a part of life. Instead of pondering on the rejection, try to move on and engage in activities that may boost your mood and uplift your spirit.

Dealing with loneliness after a breakup, divorce, or simply losing a significant person in your life can be daunting. Accepting your feelings and the fact that you have lost that important person is the first step to moving on.

Do not jump into other relationships to fill the void of loneliness. Instead, spend some time with yourself, engaging in comforting and enjoyable activities to heal yourself.

Focus on strengthening your existing relationships. Create a new routine with new habits that can even out some of the contributors to the feelings of loneliness.

Feelings of loneliness can not kill a person. However, chronic loneliness can lead to poor health outcomes. Severe loneliness and social isolation may increase health risks that may increase mortality, raising the risk of dying over time.

When you want to help someone with loneliness, it is necessary to be present for the person. Let them know they are cared for, ask them how they are feeling, and if there is any way you can help them. Be patient, especially if they feel misunderstood or easily irritated.

Encourage them to make meaningful social relationships and assure them that they can feel better with proper assistance.

Talk to one of these psychiatrists to overcome loneliness

NP Shebna N Osanmoh I, PMHNP Psychiatrist

NP Shebna N Osanmoh I, PMHNP

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 14+
Dr. Barbara Huynh, DO Psychiatrist

Dr. Barbara Huynh, DO

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment, Los Angeles Clinic

Years in Practice: 14+