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 or lacking close family around you
- grieving for a friend, 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 worried or stressed
- finding it difficult to meet new people
- having a language or cultural barrier or 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 connected to others is important for our mental and physical wellbeing and can protect against anxiety and depression. If you feel alone or socially isolated for a long time, 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 help to 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 — talking about pets are great conversation starter when you meet people. Pets can also improve your physical and mental health.
Where to get more help
Feeling lonely or isolated for a long time or for no obvious reason could be a sign of depression. Talk to your doctor, a counsellor, good friends and family, or one of these organisations might be able to help you.
- Kids Helpline (ages 5 to 25) — call 1800 55 1800
- Beyond Blue — call 1300 22 4636
- headspace (ages 12 to 25) — call 1800 650 890
- ReachOut.com (youth mental health service)
- MensLine Australia (men only) — call 1300 78 99 78
- SANE Australia — call 1800 18 7263
- Lifeline — call 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service — call 1300 659 467
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Last reviewed: September 2019