How Does Loneliness Impact Mental Health?

Healthy relationships are essential to one’s well-being. Family and friends can help people feel loved and connected they can be their cheerleaders when they need support, and they can be their eager soundboards when they need feedback. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel a sense of belonging with others, and loneliness is not just a minor inconvenience. Research has even suggested that isolation can be just as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What Causes Loneliness?

People can feel lonely for many reasons. Maybe someone recently relocated for a job and hasn’t connected with new friends yet. Maybe someone is newly divorced or widowed, and they are navigating the stressors of a changing dynamic. Or, perhaps, someone has a support system, but, despite these relationships, they still feel profound loneliness.

Although loneliness can occur at any age, the majority of studies on social isolation have primarily focused on senior adults. That said, many adolescents and young adults are increasingly reporting loneliness. The reasons for this are multifaceted: young people may cycle and transition through several identity changes, they are more likely to postpone marriage and children than previous generations, and many of them have grown up in an era built on technological interdependence.

Loneliness can be a symptom of depression and anxiety, and it can trigger maladaptive responses like substance use, risky sexual behaviors, disordered eating, and other compulsive behaviors. But loneliness may not be as easy as finding a friend or going on a date. Untangling loneliness may require interpersonal boundaries, improving self-esteem, and learning how to take social risks. It may require processing some of the attachment wounds people have experienced in the past.

How Therapy Can Help You Feel Less Lonely

Having a safe person to share your feelings with creates a sense of connection. And through this connection, you can learn how to seek and establish closeness with others. We will work together to evaluate barriers to closeness and identify actionable interventions to help you feel more empowered to achieve your desired relationships.