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How to Deal with Loneliness and Depression

Loneliness has twice the impact on early death as obesity does. This article explains the ways to deal with loneliness and depression.

"The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved."

                                                                                                        -Mother Teresa

Feeling alone is not always a choice, but sometimes a constraint that can be difficult to live with every day. This loneliness can have significant consequences on everyday life, from social isolation to true unhappiness. Some psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety etc. are particularly associated with loneliness. This article explains the ways to deal with loneliness and depression.

Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections carries the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Living alone promotes depression and anxiety, not only for the elderly, as we already know, but also for younger adults.

Loneliness ≠ Social Isolation

We must not confuse loneliness, a subjective perception of reality, and social isolation, which can be determined by certain criteria. Loneliness is distinguished from the number of friends or time spent without any company, but is defined more by the desire for greater social interaction. "The loneliness suffered is required without having been the subject of a choice," says Arnaud Campéon. " It escapes any attempt at objective definition, unlike social isolation."

How to Deal with Loneliness and Depression

Loneliness and Relationships

A satisfactory relationship life is one of the main factors of our personal development. Many studies have shown that being surrounded, being able to share and caring has a positive impact on both our mental health and our physical health. In our hyperconnected world, loneliness should have lost ground as the means of communication diversified and perfected. This is not unfortunately the case.

Few Reasons for loneliness (sometimes chosen, often constrained)

  • Widowhood
  • Divorce
  • Break-up
  • Decision not to have children
  • New motherhood (postpartum loneliness)

Health Risks

Research shows that loneliness has a number of repercussions on people's health. The feeling of loneliness is associated with an increase in cellular inflammation and a decrease in the activity of the immune system. In people feeling a lasting sense of loneliness, the genetic activity of white blood cells, responsible for protecting us in case of infection, is diminished while the level of inflammation in the cells increases. The combination of these two effects is harmful to the health of these individuals, they become more vulnerable to infection and have a lower ability to control the pathogen. 

According to some of the most alarming recent studies - Loneliness is not enough to make us sick: it kills. Loneliness is twice as dangerous as obesity. It is a major risk to our health. Several studies on loneliness among seniors reported - people lacking social interaction are twice as likely to die prematurely.

What are the consequences of loneliness?

There are many symptoms that can detect a depressive state: mood changes, restless sleep, eating disorders, fatigue or hyperactivity etc. The states of depression, more or less severe, only accentuate the feeling and the reality of loneliness. Feeling alone can have many psychological and physical consequences in everyday life:

  • sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts (in the elderly, loneliness would double the risk of early death)
  • feeling abandoned, useless, being a burden to others
  • feeling of lack and incompleteness
  • loss of self-confidence
  • anxiety disorders, panic attacks 
  • addictions 
  • loss or weight gain
  • sleeping troubles

3 tips to get out of loneliness

1.Ask yourself about your needs

It is important to prioritize your needs and gaps so you do not go wrong. Is your feeling of loneliness linked to the loss of social ties (unemployment, relocation, sickness) or does it follow a break in love or family? The important thing is to identify the most important and painful need or lack for you. This identification will allow you to better target your priority and therefore to see more clearly in your expectations. It will also allow you to not think of your loneliness all together which generates a sense of helplessness that stifles all attempts to implement the desired change.

2. Find your passion

Loneliness is often considered the cousin of boredom. Sometimes, just finding an activity that you adore heals your pain and cancels that feeling of unease. These new passions will, in addition, often multiply your desire to contact other enthusiasts and thus completely solve your initial problem.

3. Connect

One of the pitfalls of isolation and loneliness is neglecting the small links of everyday life. Volunteer to feed every day the exchanges that your day offers you: with your colleagues, your neighbors, your family. Have lunch with your colleagues more often if you do not do it. Join a group of activities (walking, reading, meditation), a neighborhood association (parents, culture ...). You can also try to find old friends or friends from high school or university or even family members over the Internet.

Do you wonder how lonely you are? Take this test to find out your loneliness score right now!

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. This is not a professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.

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