We are continuing with our weekly segment answering your questions about depression, anxiety, phobia and general life-problem. For the this edition, we are responding to questions about loneliness from the website Quora. In the future, we hope to answer your questions, so please contact us via email (email@example.com) or any of our social media accounts. All questions will be answered without using your name for reasons of anonymity.
Research has found that loneliness can have an affect on a person’s physical and mental health. According to the National Institute of Ageing, 28% of older adults in American live alone. That is approximately 13.8 million people.
Loneliness can lead to the following physical health issues:
– Heart Disease
– High Blood Pressure
– A weakened Immune System
Loneliness also lead to the following mental health issues:
– Cognitive Decline
– Alzheimer’s Disease
– Difficulty Coping With Stress
First and foremost, I would not recommend travelling alone if you are suffering from depression. Many of my clients have travelled alone during their depression and the symptoms have gotten worse. This is partly due to the fact that you have more time to think about your life. One must also remember that withdrawing from society and abstaining from relationships with loved ones is in-and-of-itself a symptom of depression. Social input, whatever form, whatever the context, is always good when dealing with depression. If you do choose to travel alone whilst suffering from depression, I would recommend maintaining regular contact with friends and family via Skype and Whatsapp, as well as staying close to other people. Instead of sitting in your hotel room in the evening, go to the hotel lounge or to a nearby restaurant.
Writing will more likely add to your loneliness. Of course it is good to have a creative outlet and if you wish to write you should write but it is also a very solitary experience that will most likely add to your experience of loneliness.
What We Do!
Cross Culture Therapy offers 1-on-1 online therapy sessions to people suffering from depression, phobia, anxiety as well as to people who suffer from displacement issues associated with a globally nomadic lifestyle (i.e.Third Culture Kids – people who have grown up in a culture different to their parent’s passport culture – and Cross Culture Kids) Our sessions are conducted via Skype for a duration of 50-minutes and can be purchased in packs of 1-session, 3-sessions or 5-sessions. If you are interested in purchasing a session, click on the Book A Session tab on our menu or click here.
Facebook in-and-of-itself does not cause depression and loneliness. There are however interesting psychological aspects at play here. Using Facebook in the wrong mindset can definitely increase your feelings of loneliness. Sitting at home looking at pictures of other people having a good time will work against your feelings of self-worth. This relates to how a person perceives their social capital. By uploading joyous pictures of oneself to facebook, the person attempts to raise their social capital. When viewing someone else’s facebook post, the person sees the poster as in a position of high social capital and relates their current state to them, causing them to feel worse. Since we tend to view facebook either in times of boredom or as a distraction to feeling inadequate (standing alone in a crowd), we often interpret ourselves as worse in relation to the person we are comparing ourselves to.
These questions were all quite similar so I am answering them together. The first thing I want to tell these three people is to be kind to themselves and not to expect their depression and feelings of loneliness to go away any time soon. Patience is very important when treating depression. Thankfully there are many things that you can do in order to overcome feelings of loneliness. The treatment is quite similar to the one we usually recommend for a mild depression since withdrawing from society is a classic symptom of depression. The treatment includes healthy eating (i.e. eating food high in natural fat) as well as exercising to raise serotonin levels in order to make you feel happier. It is also paramount that you start socialising. Here the quantity is more important than the quality, so make sure you leave the house, surround yourself with people and strike up conversations with anyone, even if they are much older or much younger than you (i.e. the person in the cash register).
Depression and extended periods of loneliness has proven to alter personality traits. When depressed people become more withdrawn, less opinionated, more irritable and less interested in things they were normally very interested in. I would recommend this person to take the CPRS depression test and take action accordingly.
How can an intelligent person who has been isolated from (what he/she calls stupid) society, overcome depression and loneliness?
The thing that struck me with this question was how bitter this person sounds. People of a certain age (14-24) have a tendency to be a bit more narcissistic and take themselves a bit more seriously. I suspect that this person falls within that age bracket but I may of course be wrong. I would tell this person to lower the expectations they have on their conversations with people and social more. Here again, the quantity of social interaction is more important than the quality. Other than that I would prescribe the normal treatment for depression.
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Philip Andersson – Counsellor
Philip Andersson is a life-coach who is currently studying to become a psychotherapist. He treats people suffering from depression, phobias and anxiety. Having been raised in Hong Kong and having lived in England and Japan as an adult, Philip also treats people who are overcome with feelings of displacement and rudderlessness associated with a global-nomad lifestyle such as Third Culture Kids, Cross Culture Kids, Migrants and Asylum Seekers.