Depression and loneliness are a deadly combination. Loneliness is a growing issue as more people live alone. According to health insurance companies, there has also been a rise in major depression for Americans. The overlap between depression and loneliness contributes to social isolation. Loneliness and depression are growing problems that people deal with in their lives. Here are twenty ways how you can practically deal with depression and loneliness.
Depression and Loneliness
What Is Depression?
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a “mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest. Also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to various emotional and physical problems.” Depression can make it difficult for you to function and do day-to-day activities and tasks. At its worst, depression can make you feel that life is not worth living.
There are different types of depression. One is short-term depression which will last only for a brief period. You may then never experience it again. The second is situational depression. You may share this when you move and don’t know anyone or are afraid of your big move. The final type of depression is long-term depression. Long-term depression is when you will have to deal with depression throughout your life.
As some people may call it, a person cannot just get out of depression or snap out of it. Depression is more than being sad or having the blues. If you experience depression, you may want to consider seeking out long-term treatment. People with depression will often discover that they will feel better with therapy, medication, or doing both to deal with their depression. Another way is to find ways to stay busy to take your mind off your depression by finding things you enjoy doing with your time.
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6 Different Types of Common Depression
From my own experience, depression can also come from people not thinking they have a purpose for their life, so they go into cycles of depression. These cycles of depression could come from not meeting the goals you set for yourself, having trouble finding a job, and being unemployed. Or even being underemployed. Depression can make you feel and think that you don’t matter or that you are unable to contribute to society, which makes you think, “what is the point?” Or, “why am I here?” These thoughts then lead to a cycle of depression.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are six common depression types. Four types of depression affect both men and women, while two kinds of depression are specific to women. Major depression is when you lose interest in activities you once enjoyed and become consumed by a malignant dark mood. Persistent depressive disorder is a low mood depression that lasts for at least two years without reaching the intensity of major depression. Bipolar disorder is when someone experiences episodes of depression. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a seasonal depression that starts as the days get shorter in the fall and winter months.
Two types of depression are unique to women. Women are at risk of experiencing perinatal depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) because women’s reproductive hormones influence these two types of depression. Perinatal depression, or postpartum depression, is a depression that has minor and major depressive episodes during pregnancy or the first twelve months of delivery for women. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which symptoms start after ovulation and at the start of menstruation.
Since there are various types of depression, people could experience it once or throughout their lives. During the depression, there are symptoms of depression that will occur for most of the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of depression that you may experience during the day with depression include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
For some people who deal with depression, the symptoms of depression can affect their daily lives. The symptoms covered below can make someone have problems performing day-to-day activities and tasks, such as studying for school, attending social events, and their relationships with friends and family. Depression can also make someone not want to
Along with these symptoms, depression can also cause other mental disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are other disorders that depression can cause:
- Bipolar I and II disorders: Bipolar disorders are mood swings that range from highs (mania) mood swings that range from highs (mania) to lows (depression). It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between bipolar disorder and depression.
- Cyclothymic disorder: The cyclothymic disorder involves highs and lows that are milder than those of bipolar disorder.
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: This mood disorder includes chronic and severe irritability and anger with frequent extreme temper outbursts in children. This disorder typically develops into depressive disorder or anxiety disorder during the teen years or adulthood.
- Persistent depressive disorder: Sometimes called dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), this is a less severe but more chronic form of depression. While it’s usually not disabling, the persistent depressive disorder can prevent you from functioning normally in your daily routine and living life to its fullest.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: This involves depression symptoms associated with hormone changes that begin a week before and improve within a few days after the onset of your period and are minimal or gone after completion of your period.
- Other depression disorders: This includes depression that’s caused by the use of recreational drugs, some prescribed medications, or another medical condition.
Drivers of Depression
There are a few main drivers of depression in people’s lives. For Millennials, depression has been blamed on social media, debt, and the economy. The Millennials came up age during a transition point in the economy. Yet, during this transition from the physical economy to the online digital economy resulting from the Dot Com Boom, they were encouraged to go to college. Career counselors and parents believed that to be the only way to succeed. By going to college, Millennials went into debt only to discover that after they graduated and could only get an entry-level job dead-end job where they could never work their way up in a company. While depression is a mental health problem, depression can also be caused by not having financial stability.
Many Millennials are depressed because they were sold a lie about college. They struggle to make ends meet due to college debt, working gig jobs, rising living costs in the United States, and now inflation with no financial stability. Being sold a lie about college and America’s poor economy forces Millennials to find new ways to make ends meet, which previous generations did not understand. This has led Millennials to take part in The Great Resignation. Since Millennials are not economically and financially secure, which are significant factors contributing to self-confidence and well-being, many have become depressed.
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What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated. Loneliness is the state of distress or discomfort that results from a gap between one’s desires for social connection and actual experiences. Loneliness is isolation when you have no friends or a community in your life, creating a feeling of sadness. However, it is vital to point out that you can live by yourself without feeling lonely. More people are experiencing the emotions associated with loneliness and experiencing a gap between what they currently have and what they want to have in their social life. Loneliness is also a state of mind.
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The Loneliness Epidemic
Loneliness is the cause of the loneliness epidemic. There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. More people experiencing loneliness create the loneliness epidemic.
There are two critical reasons for the rise in loneliness today. The atomization of people has led to increased social isolation and loneliness. Social media is also a problem. Those are two recent components of a society that have made people more isolated and less involved in their communities. People rarely know their neighbors today compared to previous generations. Social media has helped drive the loneliness epidemic as people spend more time on their screens rather than interacting with people in real life. There are also health consequences that come from loneliness. The other reason is the atomization of people, which results from people becoming more divided today.
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Health Effects Of Loneliness
Loneliness can negatively affect your health. Loneliness can result in depression or early death. It can be as harmful to your health as smoking or being obese. Depression and anxiety are two common mental health issues resulting from loneliness.
• Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes. This risk may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
• Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
• Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
• Loneliness was associated with higher depression, anxiety, and suicide rates.
• Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly four times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.
Overlap Between Depression And Loneliness
There are overlaps in the negative health consequences resulting from depression and loneliness. Here is a shortlist of the similarities between depression and loneliness. Loneliness can lead to depression. Loneliness and depression both contribute to anxiety. Depression and loneliness both can lead to suicide. Loneliness and depression can both affect your social life. Depression and loneliness can also affect your ability to be active and exercise.
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How Can You Deal With Depression And Loneliness?
There are many ways how you can deal with depression and loneliness. It will require you to work on your mental health and become social with people. This can be difficult to do depending on the type of depression you may have. Being social is also a vital solution to solving depression and loneliness. Below are twenty ways how you can deal with depression and loneliness.
20 Ways How To Deal With Depression and Loneliness
Make A Plan
Make a plan for how you will deal with your depression and loneliness. There are many different ways how you can deal with depression and loneliness. The main methods are to focus on your health and relationships and work on yourself. When you have a strategy for dealing with your depression or loneliness, you will have set a standard for yourself that you want to meet in your life.
After you plan, you can start to do something about it by acting on your strategy. Action is better than inaction. It may be as simple as saying that you will get out of your bed and open up all the blinds in your house or apartment for depression. For loneliness, an example could be that I will talk to one person for a couple of minutes when I go to a social event.
Another way is to exercise. Plan how many times you want to go to the gym a week. This will help you get more fit while regularly seeing people going to the gym. You can plan how often you want to go to the gym to work towards your fitness goals—the combination of exercise and seeing people will help with depression.
Along with exercise, diet is also essential to improve your mental health. A diet helps you to eat healthier food. When you practice a diet, it will help you to develop self-discipline. This is because you are setting a goal for yourself of what you want to accomplish. You can choose from many diets, with popular diets like the Mediterranean, Keto, Carnivore, French, and Vegan diets.
Instead of staying inside all the time, go outside. You can take a walk around your neighborhood. You could also go on a hike. It is healthy to get out of your house. This will help you get vitamin d from the sun while also seeing and interacting with people.
Depression is a mental health issue. Loneliness can lead to depression and unhealthy habits. For this reason, focus on your mental health. This will better help you to find ways to deal with depression. When you start to focus more on your mental health, you can improve your well-being and productivity.
Meditation is a way that you can work to improve your mental health. Meditation helps with stress relief. It also will help to improve your attention and train your thoughts. Meditation can help to develop self-discipline because you are making time in your day to sit down and focus on your ideas for some time. Meditation can also help you to improve your emotional regulation. Meditation can also help you to improve your sleep.
Rest And Sleep
It is also essential to get enough rest and sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, “growing evidence now suggests that poor sleep may induce or exacerbate depression” You can work to improve your sleep by having a bedtime to set yourself a sleep cycle. Another way is not to have caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco in the evening since they can affect your ability to get a good night’s rest. Another way to improve the quality of your sleep is to take melatonin before bed. You can find melatonin in liquid and capsule form, and you take melatonin about thirty minutes before bed.
Develop Coping Skills
You can also work to develop coping skills. There are unhealthy coping skills such as blaming other people, self-harm, comfort eating and using alcohol and drugs as a way for you to not deal with your emotions or problems. Healthy coping mechanisms distract yourself with healthy activities like exercise or getting outside, journaling, talking to a friend, venting your feelings, changing your mindset, and switching from negative to positive thinking. When you transition from negative to positive coping skills, you will become more productive in your life and feel better overall.
Positive Outlook On Life
Change from a negative outlook on life to a positive outlook on life. Your mindset and how you think about life directly affect your outlook on life. Negative thinking patterns will keep you trapped in negative thinking. You will continue to blame others for where you are in life instead of learning to take responsibility by working to overcome negative thinking and a fixed mindset. The alternative to negative thinking is positive thinking. Another option for a fixed mindset is a growth mindset. When you acquire positive thinking and a growth mindset in your life, you will discover that you will be better able to achieve your goals and be happier.
Time management is another skill to learn. As you start to manage your time better, you will keep yourself busy throughout your day. If you are looking to work your time during your day better, there are productivity tools that you can use on your computer or near you to help you manage your time.
There are two productivity tools that I recommend that I ordered from Etsy. APKhome makes a dry-erase acrylic to-do list with a matching daily planner. UsefulPlanner makes a variety of time management pdf documents that you can use on your computer or print out. I recommend UsefulPlanner’s ADHD planner bundle for adults. If you are a small business owner, UsefulPlanner also makes a small business planner binder.
You can go to church or whatever religious organization or beliefs you may have. This will help you to get out of your house and meet like-minded people in your community who share similar values as you. You will also find groups where you can be a part of your church. It could be a young adult group to a book club. A church, or what religious organization you may be a part of, is another way for you to meet like-minded people in your community.
Another good way to not be depressed or lonely is to have a pet. A dog, cat, or another type of animal gives you something you are responsible for in your life. Pets are beneficial to mental health. Pets can improve your mental health by making your feel less lonely, increase your sense of self-esteem and well-being, decrease stress, and give you unconditional love.
Stay In Touch With People
You can stay in touch with people in your life. It could be as simple as sending a text message to a friend or family member, asking how they are doing, and letting them know that you are doing all right. Some basic ways to stay in touch with people in your life are to send a text message, social media message, or email friends or family. You can also meet a friend for coffee or invite friends to your apartment or house.
While pets are good, friends are even better! Friends can help you deal with depression and loneliness. Unlike pets, people can talk to you. People also understand emotions. You can also meet with a friend to get coffee or your favorite place to talk about what is on your mind. Social connection is a critical part of human nature. If you have a best friend or a couple of friends you can talk to, consider yourself lucky.
Along with friends, spending time with your family can be a way to deal with depression and loneliness. You grew up with your family, familiar with your siblings and parents. No family is perfect, but they are related to you. You can get together with your family or spend more time socializing with them. If you live near your family, you could get together with them weekly or once a month to socialize with your parents or siblings.
Humans are social creatures. As social creatures, being social is essential for your mental health. There are many different ways how you can find a community. You can go to a Meetup group in your area. You could go to a coffee shop. You could go to a bar or restaurant you want to visit. You could find local events in your area around your interests. You can also volunteer. These are just a few ways to get involved with your community.
Set Realistic Standards For Yourself
When it comes to depression and loneliness, it is critical to set realistic standards for yourself. These practical standards will challenge you to find ways to work on dealing with depression or loneliness. It could be something as simple as getting sunshine so that you don’t stay inside your house. As you begin to feel better, you can raise your standards to meet the goals you want to complete. But as with anything, start small as getting a little sunshine or smiling more often during your day.
Another way is to work to make goals for yourself. When you set goals for yourself, you have things you are working towards in life. Goals will give reasons to get up in the morning when you may be depressed or feel lonely. A simple goal could be getting up in the morning and leaving your house. You can also set goals for yourself that you want to work to achieve in your life.
The final way is to consider seeing a therapist. A therapist is a professional who can help you deal with your depression. A therapist could also give you strategies to get out and meet people to deal with loneliness. There are various types of therapy to help you deal with depression, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Light Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). You can also learn to practice self-care strategies like leaving your house, talking to friends or family, exercising, or seeing a therapist.
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There are similarities and overlaps between depression and loneliness. Both can contribute to mental health problems and prevent you from wanting to interact with people. You have many ways to deal with depression and loneliness, from getting a pet, spending time with friends and family, or seeing a therapist.
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What do you think of depression and loneliness? Leave a comment and share your experience with loneliness or depression.