The loneliness of depression is partly what exacerbates the isolation of being depressed. Unfortunately, no one really wants to be around a depressed person. We all want to be around upbeat, happy people. Many of my clients tell me how lonely and isolated they feel when they are depressed. Not only are they fighting ‘mental demons’ but they are also fighting th social stigma.
Clients tell me over and over again how depression forces them into isolating themselves and withdrawing from others. They tell me they don’t want to be a burden to others and want to ‘ride out’ their low mental state on their own, hoping they will feel happier soon. The problem with depression is that it’s hard to motivate yourself and get out and do things, like socialise and put a big smile on your face. Often, depression needs the help of others – keeping busy and doing something.
Behavioural activation is key
One of the first lines of defense that Cognitive Behavioural Therapists use is to get our clients to do more. Many of my depressed clients sleep too much and dont’ mix with others. They hibernate at home and thir behaviour is unhelpful, reinforcing their miserable state. Some of my clients sleep all day. They will often wake up after midday (sometimes as late as 4pm) and they won’t engage in any self care. That is, they won’t brush their hair or teeth and this lack of self care reinforces a mental state that isn’t conducive to feeling happy or at least content. It’s easy to slip into a vicious cycle and hard to pull yourself out of it without help.
Many of my clients tell me they prefer to keep to themselves and “not bother” others. Depression is a lonely place to be.
You are NOT alone
Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
In 2013, depression was the second leading cause of years lived with a disability worldwide, behind lower back pain. In 26 countries, depression was the primary driver of disability
Depression is one of the most lonely mental health disorders – no one wants to spend time with someone who is a drag or who brings them down. Depressed people feel this acutely and shy away from others because of it. They spend excessive time with their toxic thoughts (depression turns healthy thoughts into toxic thughts – you see things negatively, you feel useless and worthless and wonder what the point is of anything) and overthink things, marinating in negativity – a disastrous recipe!
Signs and Symptoms of depression
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Feelings of worthlessness
Feelings of hopelessness
Lack of motivation to do anything
Lack of self care/sleeping more/eating more (or less)
Many clients explain depression as if they are in this big black hole. It feels oppressive. There is no light and no hope. Life feels sad and it feels as if it will always be that way. There is often an atttiude of, “what’s the point of anything?”
What to do to counteract depression
Don’t isolate yourself. Make a plan to keep busy,mget out and see people. Even if you don’t see family or friends, go sit in a coffee shop or just be around others – it helps!
Spend time with animals. Focusing on something other than yourself can give you a huge mental boost. Animals are great for affection and offer unconditional love. Volunteer at an animal shelter, visit people with pets.
Find purpose in your life. Having alife with a sense of structure is really important. If you have a life where there is no rotuine, this can encourage depression in those predisposed.
See a therapist/counsellor. Getting help for your mental health is a big step but it can make a huge difference. Check out the mental health resources page for more info.
You don’t have to suffer alone. If you are alone and isolated, think of all those other people alone at home too. Don;t be a statistic – help yourself by reaching out.
More info/resources on depression from Mind UK : https://www.mind.org.uk/media/34696345/depression-2019-web-pdf.pdf