Loneliness and depression - how they are linked

Christmas and New Year are times when you gather with families and friends and go to lots of parties. Of course, if you are into that sort of thing. But, what if you're not?


What if Christmas is a time you're contemplating spending alone - either by choice or circumstance? What if New Year is a time you have always felt very lonely, while everyone around you is having fun? What if the Season of Good Will is that time of the year you have always dreaded because you feel very depressed?

What is loneliness and what is depression? Are they linked and how can you manage a way out of these experiences?

Loneliness can increase the risk of you experiencing depression. If you are lonely for a long period, it can leave you feeling more than just alone. Depression, however, can be one of the symptoms that come from the experience of loneliness.

One of the first steps to understanding how loneliness brings about depression is to identify it. Once you get this, then you can figure out solutions so life can be improved. 

Imagine a situation of loneliness

After spending time with your co-workers, you return home to an empty house. You look at the phone and realise you have no friends to call. You’re at a time in your life when you have no relatives to support your need for connection and you have no finances to be able to go out, or even hobbies seem boring to you.  

Go a little further and imagine this has been your situation not just for a few weeks, but for a few months, years even. This kind of situation, which can be difficult to get out of, may leave you with a sensation of boredom.

As a lonely person, you’re already facing a lot of difficult situations, like:

  • the ability to form new relationships 
  • maintaining old relationships
  • feelings of unworthiness
  • lacking self-confidence 
  • lack of sleep
  • feeling anxious

Are loneliness and depression similar?

When you suffer from loneliness, you can fall into depression quite easily. But, while both loneliness and depression tend to be linked together, there are certain differences between the two and it’s important to know the differences so you can figure out your emotional needs. The similarities are:

  • memory fog 
  • difficulty focusing 
  • sapped energy 
  • bad dietary habits
  • aches and pains 
  • self-doubt 
  • low self-worth

From this list of experiences, it can be easy for a lonely person to think they’re experiencing depression. However, the distinct differences between them are that:

  • Depression is classed as a mental health condition.
  • Loneliness is a strong emotion because of not wanting to be alone. 

There is no medication for loneliness. Depression, however, is something your doctor would be able to give you something for – be that pharmaceutical prescriptions or counselling.  

Loneliness can encourage a person to slide into depression, but depression is an experience that can come about when you spend a long time alone with no relief or solution to the challenge you’re facing. However, loneliness doesn’t necessarily mean that you will become depressed. 

Loneliness and depression have very similar sensations – they may feel the same, but they are separate emotional and medical issues. This means they need to be treated in different ways.

The second step to understanding how loneliness brings about depression is to understand which emotional needs are not being met in your life. This can be done by a series of simple methods which can be explored with a counsellor. Call me for a free, brief consultation so we can imagine a different circumstance for you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Kidderminster, West Midlands, Worcestershire, DY14
Written by Kaye Bewley, MA (Hons). CBT Dip., EFT Dip.
Kidderminster, West Midlands, Worcestershire, DY14

Kaye Bewley MA is a clinical psychotherapist who set-up her private practice in Kidderminster after working with young soldiers for over a decade. She now helps the local community and ex-military personnel identify ways to heal their mind and emotions.
Visit her website today: https://www.WindmillsOfTheMind.com

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