Hey Psych2Go fam! Glad you’re joining us today. Have you ever felt alone? Even though you were with people, have you still felt somehow disengaged or removed from it all?
You might be lonely. In the grand scheme of things, loneliness doesn’t seem that important, but did you know that over time, it could have adverse effects on your mental and physical health? According to Crystal Raypole from Healthline, chronic loneliness can cause conditions from depression, to poor sleep, to high cholesterol and more (Raypole 2019).
Don’t worry though; this isn’t meant to scare you. We just want to emphasize that if loneliness goes unchecked, it can impact you in more ways than one. With that said, we hope that this article helps you take care of your happiness and health, by exploring some of the common causes of loneliness and what to do about it. Here are 7 reasons you may feel so alone.
Do you find yourself constantly working, day in and day out? Do you notice that it may make you spend a lot of extra time alone?
It turns out that not only is burnout a valid feeling, but it can also contribute heavily to feeling lonely (Seppälä and King 2017). Burnout can result from consistently overworking yourself, and can lead to you feeling exhausted and isolated from those around you. If you are experiencing burnout, remember to take care of yourself.
As tempting as it is to work ourselves as hard as we can, it’s important to prioritize time for resting, relaxing, and spending time with loved ones! Incorporating this balance into your life will help make sure that your productivity is not causing you to damage your mental health and well-being.
2. You don’t connect with your friends
Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in with your friend group? Maybe you’ve found that you have different interests and values from those around you?
If this is the case, you may be left feeling alone, despite being physically surrounded by others. We develop the strong sense of community not when we are simply around other people, but when we feel ourselves connecting with them. Unfortunately, among friends, this isn’t always the case.
According to Licensed Professional Counselor Rob Danzman from Psychology Today, loneliness surrounding friends impacts the college student demographic quite a bit. He explains that this may be because college is a time not only of academic stress, but the social stress of completely starting over for a lot of students (Danzman 2020). Hence, finding valuable friendships might be more difficult. If you can relate, try to spend some time deepening the friendships you already have and connecting with people over common interests.
3. Major life changes
Have you ever gone through a major life change–perhaps moving, a break-up, or another traumatic event–and suddenly felt emotionally distanced from those around you? Raypole suggests that any life change can lead you learning to navigate new experiences, and when you don’t see those around you struggling with the same circumstances, you may start to feel alone (Raypole 2019).
If this applies to you, know that even if your loved ones might not be able to relate to you, they still care about you. If loneliness starts to settle in, try reaching out to family members, close friends, or anyone else in your life who you trust. Not only will it help the bond between the two of you, it also just might be the release you need to start moving forward.
Loneliness and depression go hand in hand (Raypole 2019). Though is it often reported as a cause of depression, did you know that it could also be a symptom?
When someone is depressed, they may be more inclined to stay inside and isolate themselves to cope with the heaviness in their mind and body. Depression can be extremely draining, so understandably, spending excessive time alone may be tempting. However, remember that spending too much time alone is not healthy and could damage your mental health.
If you can relate, wanting to be alone is definitely not your fault, and it’s not always a bad thing. In the case of depression though, it could accidentally make things a little worse. It may be hard, but try to reach out to those around you to break the cycle you may be in. You aren’t alone, and having loved ones around more often might decrease loneliness and boost your mood.
5. Social phobias
From public speaking to hanging out in crowds, social phobias exist in a multitude of ways. Did you know that some social phobias may also lead to loneliness?
Social anxiety may make social situations a little more of a fear and therefore less fulfilling than usual (Mind 2019). Hence, in social situations, people with certain types of social phobias may feel lonely just because it may be hard for them to relax and connect with others.
If this applies to you, know that there are ways to cope with social anxiety. You are not alone, and it will get better.
6. Childhood trauma
Were you neglected as a child? Did you feel deprived of proper care, attention, and affection?
Childhood trauma can not only make someone feel physically and emotionally neglected, and thereby contribute to loneliness, but it can also amplify other causes. For example, past childhood trauma can lead to potential depression and anxiety disorders that may negatively impact loneliness.
To learn more about the effects of childhood trauma in particular, be sure to check out some of our other articles and videos.
7. Screen time
How much time do you spend on social media? When you’re on it, do you find yourself feeling lonelier than before?
According to a 2018 study by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania, spending too much time on social media may lead to loneliness through the development of a fear of missing out (Hunt et al. 2018). On Instagram, Twitter, or any other platform, we tend to compare our lives to highlights of others’ lives. This can lead to feeling as though your life isn’t as exciting as it could be, or that you don’t hang out enough with friends.
Remember though that social media is full of distortions. Just as you pick and choose the way you want to represent your life, others do the same, so comparing your entire story to a portion of someone else’s won’t do you any good.
We hope that this article helped you understand some of the possible causes of loneliness. Could you relate? Did you miss anything? Let us know. Thanks for reading!
- Danzman R (2020, February 26). “Why Are College Students Feeling So Lonely?”. Psychology Today. Campus Crunch. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/campus-crunch/202002/why-are-college-students-feeling-so-lonely
- Hunt MG, Marx R, Lipson C, Young J (2018, November 10). “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness And Depression”. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 37, No. 10, 2018, pp. 751-768.
- “Loneliness” (2019, July). Mind. Tips for everyday living. Retrieved from www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/about-loneliness/
- Raypole C (2019, June 25). “In Chronic Loneliness Real?”. Healthline. Legg TJ, reviewed by. Retrieved from www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/chronic-loneliness
- Rose H (2019, August 21). “Why Am I So Lonely?”. Psychology Today. Working Through Shame. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/working-through-shame/201908/why-am-i-so-lonely
- Seppälä E, King M (2017, June 29). “Burnout at Work Isn’t Just About Exhaustion. It’s Also About Loneliness”. Harvard Business Review. Managing People. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/06/burnout-at-work-isnt-just-about-exhaustion-its-also-about-loneliness#:~:text=What’s%20more%2C%20there%20is%20a,emotional%20exhaustion%20of%20workplace%20burnout