Loneliness vs Depression (how to differentiate)

In this article, we will explain the difference between loneliness and depression.

Sadness, when you want to spend time with other people and can’t, is a very natural answer.

Connecting with others is not just a nice way to spend your time. It’s a pretty significant well-being factor. After all, humans are social beings, and not having enough social contact can have a significant health effect.

The amount of cortisol (you may know this as the stress hormone) in your body can be increased by loneliness. This can influence your immune system and increase the risk of several health problems, including:

  • Diabetes 
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Cancer 
  • Problems with the heart
  • Obesity

Prolonged isolation can affect mental health, too. For one thing, it can make any symptoms you are currently struggling with worse. But the occurrence of severe mental health problems, including depression, may also be affected by it.

Loneliness and Depression

It is often a positive first step towards handling unwanted emotions to assess the source of emotional distress, so the short answer is yes: it does matter if you are coping with loneliness or depression.

Loneliness and depression may include similar emotions, but when one ends and the other starts, it’s not always easy to identify.

Maybe you’ll notice:

  • Discontent and irritability
  • Cognitive Fogginess
  • Low-energy power
  • Self-doubt
  • Appetite changes or sleep cycles
  • Pains and aches

The view of mental health notes that depression is intricately connected with feeling lonely. It marks a red flag for the propensity to commit suicide, with a refusal to live for others. Because of poor sleep quality, fatigue, or mere means of finding socialization, it may also precipitate drug use disorders. Schizoid patterns of thought are often related to depression, by an autistic regression into their environment and by being a personality that chooses social isolation over contact. Loneliness can potentiate destructive attitudes towards oneself or others in younger age groups and even adversely affect memory and learning, further resulting in emotional problems.

It is associated with rises in cortisol levels (stress hormone) when isolation is chronic (lasting for years), triggering anxiety, depression, digestive issues, cardiac disease, sleep problems, and weight gain, creating an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. It impairs the immune responses of the body, thus increasing vulnerability to diseases.

Difference between Loneliness and Depression

The greatest difference between depression and loneliness is that depression is a state of mental health, while loneliness is a feeling that appears to weigh you down as much as depression does.

Loneliness does not feel very secure, but it is a temporary emotional condition that relates directly to your relation and belonging requirements. You will probably feel less lonely once you fulfill those needs.

On the other hand, depression doesn’t only refer to the desire for attachment. Depression symptoms can occur for years and become more severe without care by a qualified mental health professional.

What’s more, social interaction could momentarily distract you if you have depression, but it won’t always help. Even if you spend time with your partner or best friend, you can still feel listless, hollow, and unable to participate.

Loneliness can turn into Depression

Depression is a complex state of mental health that often arises from a mixture of many causes. Nevertheless, emotions of social isolation or disappointment with your experiences will completely play a role.

Social isolation, however, does not inherently equate to solitude. Some individuals who live alone and regularly don’t see people may not feel lonely at all. Yet others might spend time every day with individuals and still feel overwhelmingly alone. When left unresolved, these feelings of isolation could eventually lead to depression in Trusted Source and other mental health issues.

Yet, not everyone who feels isolation continues to experience depression, so what does it give? Why does isolation lead to depression only occasionally?

The role of self-image

Trusted Source’s 2018 research indicates self-disgust as a possible link between isolation and depression. Your friends may not have much time lately to hang out or seem disinterested when you see them. You start searching for answers, feeling lost, maybe a little insecure, and self-disgust appears to offer a convenient scapegoat.

Self-disgust can entail negative feelings or harsh judgment on individual behavior or oneself as a whole, which also contributes to low self-worth. In thoughts like, “Why would anyone want to date me?” this might show up. I’m so mean,” or, “In 3 days, I haven’t changed my clothes… that’s gross.

If you reflect on these ideas and believe that you do not deserve love or friendship, you will behave in ways that enhance this conviction. For instance, you might turn down invites, thinking to yourself, “They don’t want to see me.” When you see someone, you might be constantly concerned about how they feel towards you.

This can reduce the importance of your interactions dramatically, leaving you feeling lonely and miserable, even among individuals you care for. A loop of depression that reinforces isolation is always the end product. You can finally start to see yourself as helpless and think that there is nothing you can do to change the situation.

Research on the relation between Loneliness and Depression

Human beings are social creatures that need a safe and stable social atmosphere to live. For mental and physical well being, fulfilling social relationships are important. Impaired social interaction may contribute to loneliness. Loneliness has been viewed as a global human condition since the time of dawn. Different psychological conditions such as depression, substance abuse, child abuse, sleep issues, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s disease may contribute to isolation. It also contributes to different physical conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, coronary heart disease, hypertension (HTN), obesity, physiological aging, cancer, impaired hearing, and poor health. Loneliness left untended, may have significant effects on people’s mental and physical health. It is also necessary to intervene to avoid isolation at the right moment so that patients’ physical and mental wellbeing is maintained.

As they have been reported to be less positive, less fulfilled, and more pessimistic, lonely individuals suffer from more depressive symptoms. Popular symptoms such as helplessness and pain are shared by more loneliness and depression. There is so much resemblance between loneliness and depression that it is considered a subset of depression by many writers. The distinction, however, can be made by the fact that loneliness is defined by the expectation that if the lonely person could be united with another desired entity, everything would be perfect. In patients who are both lonely and depressed, isolation is positively associated and negatively correlated with negative emotions and negative judgment of personality attributes. It has been seen that there is a correlation between types of insecure attachment and depression. Also, some studies indicate that insecure attachment types increase susceptibility to depression.

The susceptibility to depression may be attributed to the fact that insecurely attached people appear to develop low self-esteem, difficulty or inability to develop and sustain relationships with others, a weak capacity to solve problems, and an unhealthy sense of self. In a study conducted by Singh A et al., an increase in the level of depression with an increase in the level of loneliness was observed in 55 elderly people in the 60-80 age group in regions centered in Delhi (India) (living in separate housing societies). However, no gender disparity between isolation and depression was observed in older males and females. In contrast to the assumption, as well as what has been documented in the literature, the lack of significant gender differentiation is that older women are more vulnerable to depression. The explanation for this may be that before 60 years of age, all elderly women were not working women.

In their old age, the change in their lifestyle involved losing ties with their peers, friends, and loss of status. The shift in their lifestyle, however, was sluggish, which may have avoided any mood changes. In a study conducted by Bhatia SPS et al., the mean loneliness score was higher in elderly women compared to older men. He also concluded that older individuals who lived alone endured greater isolation than those who lived with their partners or their families.

How to deal with Loneliness and Depression

Be mindful of your “Loneliness Thoughts”

Note that isolation, rather than a fact or reality, is a state of mind. Yeah, it can naturally evoke feelings of loneliness to be alone for long periods, but it is easy to get bogged down by those feelings and begin to feel convinced that you are doomed to be alone for what feels like an eternity.

In your isolation, note that you are not alone

It almost sounds like a paradox, but the truth is that it is truly a shared experience to feel lonely. At various points in their lives, people all over the world and throughout human history have felt lonely. Although surrounded by people, it’s also possible to feel lonely, or at times in your life when your social life seems to be flourishing.

Even if your isolation makes it seem difficult, find ways to communicate.

When coping with loneliness, one of the greatest challenges is the assumption that you are the only one feeling it, which can lead to guilt and shame. But that’s why reaching out and seeking to find connection points with others, even though you feel lonely, is still a good idea. 

In this article, we explained the difference between loneliness and depression.

FAQs: Loneliness vs Depression

What loneliness does to a person?

Loneliness causes individuals to feel empty, isolated, and undesirable. Lonely people also crave human touch, but it is more difficult to establish bonds with other people because of their state of mind.

Can loneliness change your personality?

Long-term feelings of depression and social isolation, such as the ability to focus, make choices, solve problems, and even alter negative self-beliefs, can also reduce cognitive abilities. And it may lead to depression, eventually.

How does loneliness affect mood?

Lonely emotions hurt your everyday life or find it impossible to do the things you want to do. Your mood or feelings of depression are poor. You have signs, such as anxiety or depression, of another mental health problem.

Which type of personality is more prone to depression?

Individuals high in neuroticism (very emotionally sensitive) and introverts are more likely to encounter study results of negative thinking in two personality styles.

What is the loneliest age group?

A national study conducted by Manchester University and BBC Radio 4 found that 16-24-year-olds experience depression more often and more profoundly than any other age group.

Can loneliness make you crazy?

Being alone might cause you to hallucinate. If you take a healthy person without a history of mental health problems and place them under great stress, their levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) would be astronomical, influencing their ability to perceive stimuli psychologically.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/loneliness-and-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/web-loneliness/201404/is-loneliness-just-another-form-depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225959/

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