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Loneliness is a complicated emotion which typically arises due to an unmet need for social interaction. It may be described as emptiness resulting from isolation. Loneliness often includes feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
It’s important to note that being alone isn't necessarily the cause. In fact, sometimes we feel incredibly lonely when we’re not alone.
Experiences leading to loneliness
Certain experiences may trigger or amplify feelings of loneliness. Such events include loss of a loved one, retirement, moving, single parenting, graduation, break ups, toxic work environments, surviving abuse, and many more.
Some circumstances lead to more transient or passing feelings of loneliness. In these cases, like with moving or graduation, feelings of loneliness may naturally ease as one becomes more comfortable with the new environment and forms new relationships. Temporary loneliness can often be managed individually with patience and persistence.
In other cases, perhaps with single parenting or abuse recovery, loneliness may become chronic due to limited time or energy to develop relationships, difficulty trusting people, or challenges starting at the beginning of new relationships. Chronic loneliness presents a greater concern since it can be harder to overcome alone and is linked to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and disrupted sleep and eating patterns. Adolescents and teens are at particularly at risk for drug and alcohol use, risky or unsafe sex, and aggressive behaviors if feelings of loneliness aren’t addressed and resolved. Left untreated, chronic loneliness can even lead to self-harming behavior or even suicide.
Connection and support are available
While it can be difficult to figure out where to start in fixing loneliness, beginning with therapy guarantees you a person in your corner to help you brainstorm and to encourage you in taking the next brave steps. Our therapists are eager to work alongside you to explore the contributing factors to your loneliness, figure out the signs of healthy relationships, practice developing new social skills if necessary, rebuild self-esteem, or identify opportunities for meaningful connection.