What Loneliness Taught Me About Mental Health

What Loneliness Taught Me About Mental Health

Author: Racheal Mosimann

Loneliness can affect multiple aspects of someone’s life. Not only does a person’s loneliness impact their mental health, but it can impact their relationships and daily living. Working in the mental health field, it is easy to see how loneliness can negatively impact a person in many ways.

When working daily with someone who struggles with mental illness, it becomes evident how damaging being lonely can really be.  Some people hardly notice the lack of interaction, while others are consumed with overwhelming feelings of being lonely. Loneliness can trigger and/or increase many different mental health symptoms. Depression and anxiety caused by loneliness can create negative self-beliefs, social isolation and suicidal ideation. Substance use can also be triggered by loneliness as a way to prevent feeling the pain of isolation or reduce to the feeling of being alone. There are even some cases that psychosis can be triggered as a way for a person’s mind to cope with the loneliness.

It is not uncommon to see people who suffer from mental illness isolating themselves or being “antisocial”. However, what we don’t consider is the difficulty they may face trying to reduce their loneliness. For instance, a person may want to spend time with their family but feel overwhelmed when there is too much talking. Or, they fear being judged for things out of their control. As strange as it sounds, some people are comfortable in their current lives, motivating them to not make changes, despite being unhappy. There are many reasons a person maybe lonely and feel as though they are unable to change it.

Something we generally don’t consider is how a community can impact a person’s loneliness. When a person becomes symptomatic, people tend to naturally avoid this person. There are also situations in which there are not available resources to assist someone in managing their symptoms to maintain healthy social interactions. Although at times it can be extremely difficult, there are ways to reduce loneliness. Some ideas include joining groups in person or virtually, volunteering in the community, or utilizing extra supports.

Mental health supports everywhere are beginning to recognize the benefits of socialization and interpersonal interactions. Not only does this improve a person’s life, but it builds community. Hopefully, as education on mental health grows, so can the resources to reduce the number of individuals who feel alone in the community.

If loneliness continues and severely impacts your mental health please reach out for help at:

  • Valeo Crisis Center: (785)234-3300, 400 SW Oakley Ave. Topeka, KS 66606
  • Stormont Vail Behavioral Health: (785)270-4646
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1(800)273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Topeka Police Department: 911