Unwanted loneliness it is a psychological disorder which affects many people and which often appears in psychotherapy sessions. Let’s see what it is.
- Related article: “The epidemic of loneliness and what we can do to combat it”
What is unwanted loneliness?
Unwanted loneliness is the feeling experienced by a part of the population in which one feels as though they have no support or someone to rely on.
This does not mean that those who experience it have to be physically isolated, but that although they are in contact with other people, they do not feel accompanied by them, which generates clinically significant discomfort and a deterioration in the quality of life.
A person may decide to voluntarily isolate himself from the rest of society, but unlike unwanted loneliness, in these cases this isolation is actively sought and does not generate discomfort.
By itself, unwanted loneliness is not a diagnosis, but there is usually a co-morbidity (occurrence of 2 disorders simultaneously) with other disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders or the disorder. of borderline personality.
What are the causes?
It is not a monofactorial cause, it is usually generated due to the union of different risk factors which ultimately lead to this loneliness.
Some of these factors could be social skills issues, Because if someone does not know how to identify themselves, it will be difficult to generate a social circle in which to feel accompanied.
Another factor that comes out many times is age, because unfortunately too often, the elderly isolate themselves of their environment as it is more difficult for them to establish contact with each other, death of friends and family. Changes in their environment such as going to a residence, loss of family visits … all this leads the person to see his social roots weaker and weaker.
Finally, another factor to consider is geographic mobility, because when changing residence, relationships are often left behind which often weaken and it can be difficult to maintain and at the same time it is very difficult to establish new relationships.
What are the consequences?
On many occasions it can lead to anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, Fear of facing social situations … All of this can happen to a greater or lesser degree, but what is clear is that it generates deep frustration and a negative feeling that eventually spreads to d other areas of life.
In addition to the consequences we discussed earlier, this loneliness can attempt to be corrected by unhealthy behaviors such as drug use or addiction, can increase the risk of suicide, criminal and antisocial behavior.
On the other hand, in recent years, it has been observed that there is a relationship between unwanted loneliness and the risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Who usually suffers from it?
Apart from the elderly What other profiles often suffer from unwanted loneliness?
There is no single profile, because while it is true that one generally thinks of older people, the whole of society is exposed to this risk. Starting with the little ones, in which if you don’t have adequate social education and opportunities to interact with their peers and have reference and affection figures, you might suffer from unwanted loneliness.
The teenage stage is well known as a time of change and sometimes the disaffection of family to flourish with friends. This leads to the risk that if this development is not well managed this can lead to a vacuum by not feeling integrated into one or the other.
In addition, in adolescence and adulthood, social media is a huge frustration factor, As we think they unite us and avoid loneliness, but they tend to generate superficial relationships and largely promote social comparison. Indeed, the “best version” is shown and can lead to a bias in the person receiving this information, believing that he is “less sociable” than his environment.
Has it increased in recent years? Because?
This possible perception of loneliness has always existed, but has grown through the use of social media and by the current rhythm of life which does not allow us to establish such intense social relationsAs stress causes us not to have enough time to communicate meaningfully.
The truth is that we are heading towards a disturbing reality, in which our routine and the exacerbated use of new technologies, the speed at which everything is happening … prevents us from properly socializing.
How do new technologies influence the feeling of loneliness?
Although they can influence in a positive way, because they help to maintain or create relationships, the truth is that new technologies also do it in a very negative way, because it seems to us that everyone has a lot of friends with them. who go out, we can fall into comparisons and feel – we are very isolated. On the other hand, we’ve all been to meetings where people look at their cellphones instead of what’s in front of them. These acts isolate us.
How to fight this emotional isolation?
In any profile, it is important to assess whether there really is a social network, not necessarily very large, and whether, despite its existence, the person continues to feel lonely.
In our Mariva Psicòlegs clinic, in Valencia, we make an adequate evaluation of the experience of each patient, as this feeling of loneliness may be a symptom of another psychological disorder. From what is being assessed, you can work on people’s thoughts and behaviors.
For example, if I think I’m alone and it’s not real, I’m going to have to see why I think so, what my expectations are, because if I want to have a social plan every day, maybe I have unrealistic expectations, or if I don’t have a supportive social network, you can start looking for activities and training social tools to be able to create it.
On the other hand, if we talk about the fact that this loneliness is the symptom of an anxiety disorder, depression, self-esteem problems … it must be treated as a whole in psychotherapy.
How can I help?
If we sense that someone around us may be feeling lonely, as in the case of the elderly, we should try to express our affection to a greater extent and offer places to go where they can relate to. It must be remembered that we are social beings and that if we don’t see that need covered, we don’t feel good.