Can Loneliness Lead to Depression?

Can Loneliness Lead to Depression?

Currently, many people are spending an unusual amount of time alone.  Some people who live alone or who don’t see people often may not feel lonely. Yet others might spend time with people every day and still feel overwhelmingly alone.

Loneliness is the absence of imperative social relations and lack of affection in current social relationships. Loneliness is caused not by being alone, but by being without some definitely needed relationship or set of relationships.  Loneliness can eventually lead to depression and other mental health conditions.

The Similarities and Differences Between Loneliness and Depression

It can be difficult to differentiate between loneliness and depression because the symptoms and feelings are so similar, including:

  • restlessness and irritability
  • mental fogginess
  • low energy
  • hopelessness
  • self-doubt
  • changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • aches and pains

It’s essential to remember that depression is a mental health condition while loneliness is usually a transient emotional state.

A study by Martin Van Winkel, published in 2017, points out that “loneliness can be defined as an aversive affective state that occurs when people experience a discrepancy between the relationships they wish to have and how they are currently perceived.” Being lonely is likely incumbent upon feeling of unmet needs; feelings of loneliness will likely go away once those needs are met.

Depression will not simply cease once your needs are met and may persist even if you are no longer lonely. Depression symptoms can last for years.  Coping with loneliness is usually less complex than depression and can typically be managed more easily.

An article published in 2018 in Psychology Today, describes some things that you can do to cope with loneliness, such as increasing your social support, being mindful, and practicing self-affirmation. By increasing your social support, you’ll find people who satisfy your social needs. Being mindful will help you decrease the amount of time spent on your shortcomings. Self-affirmation allows you to be compassionate towards yourself and accept who you are.

Though there are distinct differences between loneliness and depression, loneliness can lead to depression.

How Loneliness Can Lead to Depression

Humans are social beings that need interaction with others to thrive. Satisfying social relationships are essential for your mental and physical well-being. Loneliness can lead to several different mental and physical disorders such as:

  • depression
  • alcohol addiction
  • sleep disorders
  • personality disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • diabetes
  • rheumatoid arthritis

Loneliness increases the amount of cortisol, also known as a stress hormone. Higher levels of cortisol can raise your risk of contracting many of the health issues listed above.

Loneliness is a negative emotion and negative emotions play an important role in the development and maintenance of psychopathology as outlined in a study titled “The Effect of Loneliness on Depression; A Meta-analysis” published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 

Lonely people typically have more negative interactions and anticipate rejection. When you are lonely and isolate yourself as a coping mechanism, it can contribute to the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). Lonely people are more likely to develop depression because they are likely to have low self-esteem, difficulty or the inability to maintain relationships, poor problem-solving skills, and a negative conception of themselves.

Mid City TMS Can Help Your Loneliness and Depression

Depression can affect your interest in social interaction, making it difficult to reach out. When you’re depressed, you might feel worthless, guilty, or believe other people don’t want to spend time with you.  TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) is an FDA-approved depression treatment is often a great option for treating depression. Over two-thirds of our patients have achieved a substantial response, with half of those achieving full remission from all of their depression symptoms.

At Mid City TMS, our treatment team provides not just TMS, but also a comprehensive treatment plan for depression, including addressing loneliness by encouraging our patients to enhance socialization and the quality of time they spend with others. Working to improve the quality of your relationships can help prevent loneliness and distress while also helping alleviate depression.

Contact us today to learn more about TMS and to determine if it’s the right treatment for you.

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