How To Cope With Depression When You Are Feeling Alone

Depression and loneliness often go hand-in-hand and it’s easy to become trapped in a harmful cycle of sadness, withdrawal and isolation.

It can be difficult to view situations clearly without judgement when you are feeling depressed, and as a result, you may begin to feel as though no one understands you and that you are alone in the world.

In reality, this may not be the case. This can cause you to withdraw from others and end up feeling more isolated than ever, which in turn magnifies the feelings of depression and hopelessness.

Recognising this pattern is the first step towards breaking the cycle of depression and loneliness. With time, perseverance and the right help and support, you can begin to see the world in a more positive light.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Everyone feels sad from time to time, but clinical depression often runs much deeper than mere sadness.

If you have been experiencing a continuous low mood for a number of weeks or months and have lost interest in the hobbies and activities that you previously used to enjoy, you may be suffering from depression. [1]

It’s important to remember that depression differs from grief in a number of ways.

If you have experienced a loss such as the breakdown of a relationship or the death of a loved one, it is completely natural and healthy to feel sad and mourn them.

You will usually find that your feelings of sadness around grief tend to come and go in waves, while people who are depressed will usually feel sad all the time.

There are a number of physical, psychological and social symptoms that can indicate clinical depression, with the most common signs listed below.

Common physical symptoms of depression

  • Low energy and lack of motivation
  • Insomnia, nightmares and/or waking up too early
  • Feeling as though you are moving or speaking very slowly
  • Changes to your menstrual cycle
  • Loss of appetite
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling achy and sore for no apparent reason
  • Constipation
  • Loss of interest in sex

Common psychological symptoms of depression

  • Feeling tearful and upset on a regular basis
  • Continuous low mood
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Lack of interest in activities and events that were previously enjoyed
  • Feelings of worry and anxiety
  • Finding it difficult to motivate yourself
  • Feeling guilty about your past and current actions
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feeling snappy and irritable with other people
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Feeling as though everything is hopeless

Common social symptoms of depression

  • Becoming withdrawn and isolated, spending time alone instead of with family and friends
  • Refusing to engage with hobbies, work, school, social outings and other events
  • Frequent conflict and other trouble at work, school or home

You do not need to display all of the above symptoms in order to be diagnosed with clinical depression.

It is important to see a doctor for a professional diagnosis in order to receive the help and support that you need.

You may be prescribed a combination of medication and counselling to tackle the root causes of your depression, and your doctor will be able to talk you through your treatment options and guide you through the process.

What are the signs and symptoms of loneliness?

Many people feel lonely at some point during their life, particularly if they have recently undergone a big life event such as having a baby or moving to a new country.

These feelings are usually temporary and will often pass fairly quickly, but when feelings of loneliness and isolation persist on a long-term basis without abating then you may be suffering from chronic loneliness. [2]

Common symptoms of loneliness

  • Feeling as though you only have casual friends or acquaintances, and no one that you truly connect with
  • Insomnia – difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Attempting to numb uncomfortable feelings by shopping or watching TV
  • Lack of appetite
  • Little energy and motivation
  • Attempting to reach out to others but receiving little interest or acknowledgement
  • Feeling isolated from others, even in a crowd of people or at a party
  • Finding it difficult to truly connect with people beyond surface-level conversation
  • Low self-worth and self-confidence, often doubting yourself and your abilities
  • Suffering from exhaustion after attempting to socialise with others

While chronic loneliness isn’t currently recognised as a mental health disorder, it is a very real condition that has the ability to affect your physical and psychological health if not properly managed.

What are some effective ways to cope with depression and loneliness?

It can feel difficult to see a way forward when you are struggling with feelings of depression and loneliness, but thankfully there are a number of steps that you can take to improve your situation and overall mood both in the short and long term.

1. Reach out for help

Depression and loneliness can be extremely isolating conditions, but thankfully you don’t need to deal with them alone.

The most effective way to express your thoughts and emotions is to regularly speak to a professional counsellor.

This non-judgemental and private environment can be a safe place in which to discuss your feelings and learn proactive steps that you can take to improve your mental health.

If you don’t feel ready to speak to a counsellor, or if other circumstances are preventing you from doing so, it can be very beneficial to speak to a trusted friend or family member about how you’re feeling.

Sharing the burden with someone who cares about you and wants you to feel better can be a huge relief, and you can even write down your feelings in a letter if you don’t feel comfortable speaking face to face.

2. Work on your current relationships

It’s common for people to feel lonely and isolated even when they have a wide range of friends and acquaintances. [3]

If you’ve noticed that you frequently experience feelings of loneliness, it may be worth examining the quality of your current friendships and taking steps to improve them where possible.

If there’s someone you want to become closer to, try arranging an activity such as lunch or even a coffee date where you can connect more.

It can also be helpful to reassess how you’re spending time with friends and acquaintances in order to forge a more meaningful connection.

If you mainly spend time on your phones when you’re together, you could initiate some deeper discussions or participate in activities that can bring you closer together.

3. Learn to manage your emotions

It’s easy to become trapped in a cycle of negative thinking and low self-esteem, particularly when you are experiencing feelings of depression and loneliness.

However, it is possible to manage these emotions in a healthy way and work through them without spiralling out of control.

If a friend cancels a planned lunch date you may think, ‘

They don’t want to spend time with me because I’m so boring.’ Instead, try to reframe this thought as, ‘Something important must have come up. We’ll reschedule again soon.’

It can be difficult to feel connected with other people if you spend most of your time alone.

It’s important to accept your current situation while still moving towards the life you want to lead, so make sure you spend time on things that you enjoy doing alone.

4. Get involved in hobbies and activities that you enjoy

Becoming immersed in an enjoyable activity can help to boost your confidence, lift your mood and may even be an opportunity to meet new people and reduce feelings of loneliness.

If you enjoy playing a particular sport, try joining a local team and make the effort to socialise with other players even after the game has ended.

While it is usually easier to meet new people in a group setting, there are still many ways to socialise with others even if your preferred hobby is a solitary activity.

The internet is filled with forums dedicated to niche hobbies and activities, so try reaching out online and joining communities such as Reddit or Discord to meet other people who share your interests.

What should I do if I feel as though I can’t cope any longer?

If your feelings of loneliness and depression are becoming overwhelming, it’s important to seek help.

It’s common for people who feel this way to begin having thoughts of self-harm or even suicide, and this can be extremely dangerous.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there are a number of resources available to you.

Many people do not feel comfortable speaking to friends and family members about their emotions, and if this is the case for you then you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 for free and confidential support.

Suicide is not the solution to your problems.

Try to remember that your current situation is only temporary while taking your own life is permanent and can never be reversed.