Have you ever felt like you are invisible? That no one knows that you even exist? Do you watch other people hanging out, doing things together, or even just texting each other? Have you watched as people share knowing looks or an inside joke and wished that you had someone like that, too? Being social is hard, but being alone is harder. Whether you are actually isolated and friendless or just feel like you are, it can be so lonely. You deserve to connect with other people and have to join the party.
What Causes Loneliness
Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, even if you are not physically isolated. It is a lack of emotional connection with other human beings. Sometimes, loneliness is caused by a lack of social skills: not knowing what to say in a social situation, not being able to read social cues, not making eye contact, and not making those emotional connections. This is sometimes genetic, as those whose parents do not have close emotional connections to their siblings and families or others are more likely to be the same as their parents.
Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often lonely, as a lack of social skills is very common when someone is on the spectrum. This is often characterized by a lack of or even an awareness of social opportunities. Often those with ASD are very, very lonely, they just don’t always know why, or how to help themselves.
There are other conditions that cause loneliness, one of which is social anxiety. Most of us have some kind of anxiety about social situations. It is actually normal to experience some kind of stress about saying the right things, anticipating who will be at a social event, or even who we will talk to. However, social anxiety is an actual diagnosis in which there are physical symptoms like nausea and vomiting, pain in arms or legs, uncontrollable and repetitive ticks, and intensely rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath, or even a panic attack. If you have social anxiety, you may freeze up completely in social situations, or just literally run or hide.
When you are truly alone, without friends or social interaction, this is known as social isolation. Loneliness can be perceived or experienced only on an emotional level because we are around friends or people who interact with us, we just don’t feel the connection. But social isolation is that person that sits alone and doesn’t even talk to people, or is maybe even homeschooled or otherwise physically isolated from most or all peer interaction. All loneliness is devastating, but social isolation more commonly leads to depression.
When you suffer from depression, one of the symptoms is feeling lonely. However, loneliness can also cause depression. If you are clinically depressed, you suffer from pervasive sadness and negative thoughts – not necessarily crying, although some people do cry when they’re depressed. Your sleeping and eating habits are interrupted, and many report feeling physically ill, often with random aches and pains that don’t seem to be related to physical trauma or illness. As the depression gets worse, it can interfere with your ability to function at school or work, and may eventually produce suicidal thoughts. Loneliness is hard enough on your body, but depression compounds it and puts you at risk of self-harm.
Other Health Problems
Loneliness can cause other health problems, too. For example, loneliness is a very common reason that people begin using substances. This creates a whole new set of problems and can also be life-threatening. Additionally, loneliness can cause physical conditions like cardiovascular disease and complications. In fact, people who suffer from loneliness for a long time have greatly increased the chances of having a heart attack.
Changing Your Story
If you are suffering from loneliness, and especially if you are isolated, you can ask for help to change your story. Chemical imbalances that cause social anxiety and depression can be treated with proper medical and therapeutic care. You can learn social skills, even if you have ASD, by attending programs, especially those with groups.
As you learn coping mechanisms and gain self-confidence, you can stretch yourself by joining clubs or organizations or athletic teams that allow you to put your new social skills into practice. You can work on your relationships with your family to create or deepen your emotional connections. You can get involved with volunteer organizations, because you will be socially immersed, and the connections involved with giving service can help to mend our ability to connect emotionally. It will take some work, and plenty of courage, but you will be able to find friends and people you can count on, and you will be able to turn loneliness into real happiness, with a side of friendships.
They say that one is the loneliest number, but one is also the number of minutes it takes to make that call to change your life. You don’t need to be lonely or isolated. You don’t need to feel like this is all there is. Instead of watching people socialize around you, you can be part of the party. You can gain the confidence you need to break through the walls of loneliness and find happy, meaningful relationships with other people. You are brave, you are fun, and your future friends are waiting for you to call.
You can break the bonds of loneliness by calling Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 today. Change your path and join the party.