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Steps to take if you're feeling lonely and depressed

If you have been feeling lonely and depressed, it is important to remember that this is something that you can overcome. You deserve to feel happy and fulfilled, and there are steps that you can take to get there.

Within this blog, we will look at what you can do to address these feelings. We will also outline the professional support and treatment that is available if you feel that you need a helping hand.

Are feeling lonely and depressed linked?

Loneliness and mental health are closely linked. When a person is lonely and doesn’t take steps to address it, it can increase the likelihood of them experiencing depression, and vice versa.

If you have been feeling lonely and depressed, it is possible for you to break this cycle and prevent these feelings from worsening overtime.

Why am I feeling lonely and depressed?

People experience loneliness as well as depression for a number of different reasons.

When it comes to loneliness, a person will typically feel alone when the relationships in their life lack the intensity, intimacy and authenticity that they need to feel content. This can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Losing someone close to you
  • Getting a divorce or ending a relationship
  • Retiring, becoming unemployed or changing jobs
  • Entering higher education or changing your school, college or university
  • Relocating to an area away from family, friends and colleagues
  • Going through seasonal events such as Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries
  • Experiencing a traumatic life event, particularly if it remains unaddressed
  • Experiencing a mental health condition or addiction, particularly if it remains unaddressed

With depression, there are also many reasons as to why people experience this mental health condition, many of which overlap with what can cause loneliness. These can include the following:

  • Experiencing trauma, especially during childhood
  • Going through a distressing life event such as losing your job, getting a divorce or losing someone you love
  • Struggling with serious and/or chronic physical health problems
  • Having a family history of depression or other mental health problems
  • Having previous experiences with mental health problems
  • Having certain personality traits such as being very self-critical or having low self-esteem

Self-care tips for dealing with loneliness and depression

As feeling lonely and depressed are often interlinked, addressing one can often help the other. We understand that being proactive and taking on certain tasks can be incredibly challenging, but if you are able to really push yourself, these steps can be helpful.

Keep a thought journal

During the moments when you are feeling lonely or depressed, write down your exact emotions and the reasons behind them. This can help in the following ways:

  • It can act as a release. Jotting down your thoughts and feelings can feel as though you are transferring them from your brain onto the piece of paper
  • Seeing your thoughts and feeling written down can help everything to seem a little more clear and manageable
  • A thought journal can help you to gain clarity as to why you have these strong emotions. You may start to see patterns or common triggers that cause you to feel lonely and depressed

Within your thought journal, also write about when you feel happy and connected. Then, as you become more aware of what causes you to think and behave positively, start doing even more of the activities that make you feel good.

Write a daily gratitude list

When you’re feeling lonely and depressed, you may find that you focus more on the negatives in life, which can leave you feeling even worse. One thing that you can do to change this is to write out a daily gratitude list, where you put down five things that you’re grateful for or happy about each day.

Giving yourself the time to focus on these positives will help you to become more aware of the good things you have and overtime, can help you to pay more attention to these positives as you go about your daily life.

Show yourself compassion

When people feel lonely and depressed, they will typically have low self-esteem too.

If you find that you constantly berate yourself for feeling down, think about what you’d say to a friend going through something like this and what you’d do to help them feel better. Rather than being self-critical, remember that you deserve compassion too, so treat yourself kindly in any moment when you aren’t feeling so good.

Examine and enhance your current relationships

Which people in your life make you feel great? Make regular plans with them and try really hard to maintain these relationships. Even a regular phone or video chat can be a good way to connect.

We understand that being proactive and making plans to see and be around people can be hard when you’re feeling lonely and depressed, but pushing yourself to spend more time with the people who you care about can really help you to feel less alone.

Strengthen your support network

If you feel that you aren’t satisfied with the social interactions in your life, think about what you can do to build more meaningful connections. What activities do you enjoy or is there something new you want to try? Look into joining local groups or clubs to meet like-minded people who you can spend time with.

You may also want to look into getting professional therapeutic support. Many people who feel lonely and depressed find it useful to talk through what they’re experiencing with a therapist or counsellor, who they can then work with to find solutions for a better quality of life going forward.

Accessing professional support for loneliness and depression

If you have found that you continue to feel lonely and depressed regardless of any changes that you make to your lifestyle, you may need a helping hand in order to start feeling better.

You may want to start out by visiting your GP and explaining the thoughts and feelings that you have been experiencing. They can provide you with advice, support and if necessary, access to a service such as Priory Group where you can receive specialist support and treatment.

You can also come directly to Priory Group, where you will be able to sit down with one of our consultant psychiatrists to determine the best form of treatment or therapy for you to undergo at one of our hospitals or wellbeing centres. The mental health support and treatment that we are able to provide includes weekly therapy sessions, day or half-day sessions at one of our day facilities or residential stays, if deemed necessary.

Are you feeling lonely and depressed in your relationship?

If you are feeling lonely and depressed in your relationship, you may also want to think about accessing couples therapy.

At Priory Group, we are able to provide weekly therapy sessions where you and your partner can have an open dialogue within a safe and supportive environment. These sessions give you the opportunity to talk through any issues and concerns with an experienced therapist, who will be able to support you both so that you are able to start feeling more connected within your relationship.

Blog reviewed by Alison Hardy (Dip. in counselling, PG CBT), Senior Lead Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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