At some time in your life you may feel loneliness or have a feeling of isolation from other people and the world around you.
These feelings are normal but there are many things you can do to overcome them.
Why do I feel lonely or isolated?
You can feel lonely or isolated for many reasons even when other people are around you. Some reasons you might feel lonely or isolated include:
- living alone
- lacking close family around you
- losing your friends, a spouse, or your partner
- going through a divorce or break up
- retiring from work or changing schools or jobs
- living away from home for the first time
- being unemployed
- feeling shy
- feeling worried or stressed
- finding it difficult to meet new people
- having a language or cultural barrier
- being away from your culture of origin
- being bullied
- feeling unsure about your sexuality
- having a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety or a physical disability.
How can loneliness and isolation affect my health?
Feeling alone or socially isolated for a long time can be harmful. You might experience physical or mental problems or do things that are bad for you.
Some signs to look for include:
- physical symptoms – such as headaches, feeling ill, having pains, feeling tired, having sleep problems or lacking motivation
- mental health conditions – such as depression, feeling anxious, having panic attacks or feeling paranoid
- diet problems – such as putting on weight, losing weight or losing your appetite
- negative feelings – such as feeling worthless or hopeless or thinking about suicide
- substance abuse – such drinking a lot of alcohol, misusing medicines or taking drugs.
What can help?
You can overcome loneliness and isolation and improve your life by:
- connecting with family and friends – visit, phone, email or use video technology
- getting out of the house – go shopping, exercise, join a club or enrol to study
- volunteering – meet new people to feel connected and valued
- getting a pet – pets are great conversation starters. They can improve your physical and mental health.
Last reviewed: August 2015