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How can you prevent loneliness and help those who are lonely?

How can you prevent loneliness and help those who are lonely?

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Continue ReadingHow can you prevent loneliness and help those who are lonely?

What, Why, and How?

This is the first item’s accordion body. Depression (major depressive disorder) is a critical medical condition that hurts how you feel, think, and acts. Depression causes a persistent read more …

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Percentage of respondents in the U.S. who reported symptoms of depressive disorder in the last seven days from April 2020 to April 2022 7:32 PM


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What is Loneliness?

Loneliness is a universal emotion, a state of mind. Anyone can experience this complex emotion at any age, but the reasons may be varied. For instance, a child who feels lonely at 11 may not have the exact reason for his loneliness as a person in his late 30s.

The reason for feeling loneliness can vary from person to person, but it triggers under one condition: when you need more social connections.

According to the American Psychological Association, loneliness can be “an effective and cognitive discomfort or uneasiness from being or perceiving oneself to be alone or otherwise solitary.

How does Loneliness affect us?

Loneliness can appear like a temporary state of mind when looking from the outside, even though it can affect well-being and mental health. The feeling of loneliness is often associated with adverse physical and psychological health outcomes like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression, 
  • Suicidal tendency, 
  • Sleep disorders, 
  • Increased negative emotions,
  • Type 2 diabetes,
  • Heart disease,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Substance abuse

In addition, long-term feelings of loneliness or chronic loneliness can also cause insomnia and reduce cognitive skills such as problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, concentration, etc.

Why do people feel lonely or suffer from Loneliness?

The following factors can influence loneliness:

Situations

Changes in circumstances and situations can cause loneliness, for instance, a change in location, a sudden disability, etc.

Psychological disorder

Certain psychological disorders like depression or social anxiety can contribute to loneliness. For instance, when depressed, a person tends to isolate himself, which leads to feeling lonely.

Low self-esteem

Loneliness can also result from a lack of confidence or poor self-worth. A person with low self-esteem may perceive himself as unworthy and develop negative beliefs that disconnect him from others and make him feel lonely.

Personality

Certain personality factors can also influence feelings of loneliness. For instance, an introvert may find it challenging to socialize under various circumstances and feel left alone or lonely. On the contrary, an extrovert may find it challenging to adapt to a new environment where he lives alone.

What are the types of Loneliness?

There are three dimensions of loneliness that you can observe or identify. This understanding will be easier to cope with or help others cope with loneliness.

Intimate Loneliness

Intimate loneliness can also be understood as emotional loneliness. It is the perceived absence of someone, for instance, a spouse. This kind of loneliness is the absence of someone you can count on for emotional support in times of distress, who recognizes your worth as a person and is always there for your aid.

This kind of mutual connection can be observed between close friends, best friends, siblings, or spouses. 

Relational Loneliness

Relational loneliness can also be termed social loneliness, and it can be understood as the perceived absence of quality friends or family relations. This accounts for those people you see regularly and can receive help and assistance tangibly or physically, for instance, loans, assistance with projects, etc.

Collective Loneliness

Collective loneliness can be understood as the absence of active or social networks. This can include various groups, teams, etc., where you can connect with others similar to you. This can consist of 150-1500 people in your outermost circle. 

Chronicity of Loneliness

The factor of chronicity influences the damage and intensity of loneliness. It can be of three types, and they are as follows:

Transient Loneliness

This is the kind of loneliness that comes and goes with time. Transient loneliness can affect you when you experience a temporary change in relationships, environment, or circumstances. Examples include Graduating from high school or college, change in job, distance from close family or friends, etc. It is usually a short-term feeling and can motivate you to strengthen or establish new bonds. It subsides once you adapt and accept the changes with time. However, if it lingers for a long time, it can convert to chronic loneliness, which is a concern. 

Situational Loneliness

Situational loneliness is similar to transient loneliness. It usually comes with a sudden change in circumstances or situations and may linger for a little longer. This can happen when any one area of your needs is not met. For example, a person may not feel lonely at work but home due to staying alone or with roommates. 

Chronic Loneliness

Chronic loneliness is a kind of loneliness that prevails for an extended time and can affect almost all areas of your life. It is the ongoing and frequent emotion of feeling lonely, separated from others, or incapable of developing connections on a deeper level. This type of loneliness can be connected to strong feelings like inadequacy, lower self-esteem, and self-hatred. It can cause severe mental and physical health problems if prolonged for a long time.

What are the symptoms of Loneliness?

It is pretty easy to imagine a person sitting alone or staying aloof is probably suffering from loneliness when thinking of loneliness. However, it is not always the case, and sometimes there is more than one definite symptom to identify someone lonely.

Here are a few common signs you can observe to identify if you or someone around you is lonely or not.

Spending most of the time alone

Though this is the most obvious sign, it may not necessarily be the case for everyone. While some people enjoy spending their time alone, in some cases, people may feel lonely even when they have company. It has been observed that people who feel lonely tend to spend their time alone.

Getting unproductive day by day

Another common sign of loneliness is losing interest in what you do and how you look. You start being distant from your colleagues and peers and stop giving your best, or rather the zeal to give your best in anything vanishes, leaving you unproductive.

Getting attached to worldly objects

Sometimes, when we feel something missing in our life, we tend to fill it with something else. It is the same with loneliness. When a person is lonely, he often tends to overcome that feeling by getting distracted by taking up various hobbies or running after worldly objects.

Frequent sickness

It is true when people say that your mental health reflects your physical health. Anyone who suffers from loneliness can experience sleep disturbances or insomnia, tiredness, and increased stress levels. These, in contrast, can affect the immune system, resulting in frequent colds and so on.

Holding on to negativity

Another vital sign of loneliness is holding on to negative experiences. When a person is lonely, he may get offended by the little things and find it difficult to let go of the bad experiences.

When to seek professional help

An expert dealing with various such cases will know precisely the best possible approach to help you. You can seek professional help if you experience the following conditions:

  • When feelings of loneliness linger for a long time and start affecting your daily life,
  • When loneliness causes you to experience depression, anxiety, or other such mental disorders, 
  • When feelings of loneliness start affecting your physical health for over a few weeks.

How is Loneliness treated?

The kind of treatment needed to combat loneliness depends on the type of loneliness you are going through and other associated issues.

Therapy

Therapies are an excellent way to help with feelings of loneliness. Over time various therapies have been proven helpful in treating loneliness, and the most effective ones are as follows:

Cognitive Behavioral Theory

Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) is one of the most beneficial therapies to treat various mental health problems, including loneliness. CBT works on the concept that your way of perceiving a situation is more deeply responsible for your reaction than the situation itself. Thus, CBT helps reduce loneliness by surfacing your automatic thoughts and feelings, and you realize and challenge them. 

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy aims at treating people by helping them understand their feelings and emotions. This insight makes it easier to understand your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to make better life decisions. It revolves around the concept of self-awareness. It helps to reduce loneliness by focusing on the root of the emotional distress. 

Medical Treatment

Medical Treatment to help loneliness depends on other issues associated with it. Medications may include antidepressants that can improve anxiety-like behavior and fears, neurosteroids, or oxytocin.

Bottom Line

It is necessary to understand that loneliness is a state of mind. It may be difficult, but the first step is admitting to loneliness. Anyone suffering from mental issues needs little understanding and support. Just like physical well-being, our mental well-being is essential.

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