At some time in your life you may feel lonely or isolated 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.
- 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
- low energy - feeling tired or not having motivation
- sleep problems - not being able to get to sleep, stay asleep or waking up a lot
- 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
- connecting with communities online - join a game where you can chat to people
- getting out of the house – go shopping, exercise, join a club or enroll 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.
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Last reviewed: September 2017