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Loneliness and Depression: Causes, Effects & Treatment

by Melanie Peterson

Do you also feel a little sad or down lately? It’s quite common these days. With growing stress and limited interactions among people, mental health problems arise. Humans are social creatures that require social interaction even if they deny it. Also, it’s true that you can feel lonely while being surrounded by people.

Since every lonely person has his own reasons, the prevention and treatment techniques vary dramatically. For example, a desolate student who’s unable to score well and get attention has different needs than a similar child trying to make friends for survival in school. “The feeling of loneliness” is ONE but its reasons or causes can be MANY!

The Main Difference

The primary distinction between a mental health disorder (depression) and loneliness is that the former is a condition, whereas later is an emotion. You may think of things that bother you when you’re lonely. But when you live with mental health problems, you keep on feeling the same issues that bring you down eventually.  

Loneliness, mostly, is a short-lived feeling that goes away when you meet those people whom you desire. Whereas a mental health disorder can linger for a long time and evolve into a serious condition even if the cause is eliminated. 

What Causes Loneliness and Depression?

To determine the underlying causes of loneliness and depression, you need to dig deeper into questions like ‘when, why, and how often’ do you feel down. When you’re anguished, you keep coming across the same difficulties, which finally knock you down.

Talking of loneliness causes, we can never come to a conclusion or a definite set of reasons because this feeling can occur due to ‘n’ number of reasons. On the flip side, experts connect depression with these causes:

• Abuse: Sexual, physical, emotional abuse at any time in your life can make you prone to developing depression later. This includes any unfavorable events that affect your mental health.

• Death or grief: The death of a family member, a close relative, or some other loved one can have an instigating impact on your behavior and thoughts. Its sorrow stays for long and may push you to the sad flank of reality.

• Gender: Recent statistics prove that women are more likely to develop this disorder for no well-defined reason. Maybe the hormonal changes that they go through elevate the risk.

• Childhood concussion: Certain occurrences or traumas faced during childhood might make you vulnerable to depression. These include scary, life-threatening, or abusive occurrences. Some people even relive the event through nightmares and flashbacks.

• Genetics: If you have a family history of depression, your likelihood of getting the disease may increase by 25%. Scientists found 3p25-26 chromosomes in approximately 800 families that reported recurrent depression.

• Severe illnesses: Patients with diabetes, heart problems, cancer, or any other severe disease face a variety of issues, aches, and adverse events. This is why such individuals may feel forlorn.

• Some medicines: Sometimes, the medicines you consume don’t suit your body. You may suffer from severe side effects and problems. Drugs can also have an addictive nature and impact your lifestyle. Hence, they can result in depression.

• Brain structure: Chemical imbalances in different parts of your brain can regulate your mood, sleep, thoughts, and lifestyle. Both functional and structural abnormalities play a vital role in developing depression. 

• Substance abuse: The use of alcohol and smoke is addictive and makes your body dependent on certain toxins. Not being able to quit the addictions can lead to acute depression. 

• Socioeconomic status: Your socioeconomic status can affect your mental health adversely.

• Vitamin D deficiency: Researchers say that vitamin deficiencies can be one of the risk factors for this condition. Inadequate levels of vitamins and other nutrients may lead to mental disturbances in some people.

• Other personal problems: A couple of personal problems hinder your good mood. You might feel unhappy because of relationship concerns, specific financial issues, and other troubles.

Effects of Loneliness & Depression

When you feel a bit different, your body along with your lifestyle get impacted too. You may see certain changes that are also known as symptoms of depression. Wondering what depression actually looks like? Below are a few of its notable indicators.

Effects on your health

• Insomnia (difficulty in sleeping)

• Headache and fatigue

• Diarrhea or constipation

• An increased risk of heart problems

• Loss of libido

• Unexplained weight gain or loss

• Increased pain sensitivity

• Weekend immune system

Effects on your lifestyle

• Restlessness

• Being agitated or stressed

• Not paying attention

• Inability to maintain relationships

• Unwilling attitude

• Diversion towards substance abuse

• Unexplained distractions

Medical Treatment of Depression

Your depression treatment depends upon many factors. These include your age, type of depression, the severity of the disorder, and its cause. The following are the common medical treatments your therapist may consider.

• Counseling: “Talk therapy” is often the first approach to manage mild to moderate cases. The therapist’s role will be to listen to you, your thoughts, and your issues and provide suitable solutions with empathy.

• Medications: Depression medicines, also known as antidepressants, are some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that help normalize brain changes concerning your condition. 

• Hypnosis: It is used in the management of negative thinking that causes depression. It helps in lifting mental health problems when done rightly. However, hypnosis is not relevant for all cases of depression.

• Light therapy: It treats a certain type of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Light therapy eases severe signs with the help of a light therapy box that gives off a bright light.

Treating Mild Depression at Home

If you’re thinking of quick ways to treat or manage depression and loneliness at home, you may consider the following tips.

• Engaging activities: Keep yourself engaged in tasks that make you happy or satisfied. You can take up new challenges every week and nail them with your skills. Building confidence and positivity is the only task.

• Exercises: Regular exercises like walking, running, push-ups, etc. can help relieve depression symptoms. You can relax with the help of easy drills and even try yoga.

• Healthy diet: A diet that contains food items with a balance of all essential nutrients helps boost your mood. “A fit stomach drives a happy mind” is totally right in this case.

• Quit alcohol/smoke: Leaving behind such addictive items can help you a lot! Be it smoke, alcohol, or some other substances, you can improve your condition by simply starting to quit them.

• Challenge your negative thoughts: Your thoughts can ping you again and again. This can be done in the form of nightmares or scary flashbacks. Challenging those thoughts must be your motto.

Seek help from your doctor right away if you feel depressed or suicidal.

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