Depression comes with a host of different symptoms that manifest themselves differently in each individual. One of the tell-tale signs of depression is social isolation.
When depression is at it’s worst without treatment, it can unintentionally ruin relationships.
Those who sink into depressive states often isolate themselves from friends and society in general in order to cope.
There are many reasons behind the symptom of social isolation. For each individual the reason is different.
However, social isolation makes depression worse!
This is not surprising. Since social isolation makes depression worse, it’s possible that increasing social interaction could help alleviate and even treat depression symptoms in some individuals.
If you’re in a power struggle with depression and social isolation there are ways to increase your social interaction slowly in order to help alleviate depression symptoms!
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What Is Social Isolation?
Social isolation is the lack of social relationships with friends, family and acquaintances.
Although some people choose to isolate themselves from others on purpose, people with depression often don’t choose to isolate themselves from loved ones.
Instead, social isolation because a depression symptom that displays itself in an unhealthy manner because you are not making the conscious decision to isolate yourself.
It’s just happening as a result of depression.
If you’re experiencing depression symptoms and are social isolating yourself unintentionally, there may be an underlying cause of the isolation that needs to be addressed.
Causes Of Social Isolation
While depression maybe the primary cause of social isolation, there maybe other reasons for you socially isolating yourself from others.
Some underlying reasons for social isolation include:
-Fear of being embarrassed or shamed
-Lack of self-confidence around others
-Fear of abandonment from others
-A sense of overall loneliness
-Negative self-talk that reflects itself with social relationships (Ex: “I’m so stupid. I don’t deserve to have any friends.”)
-Superficial relationships without meaning
If there is a root cause to your social isolation other than depression, it needs to be addressed before you try to use social interaction for helping your depression.
This can be done one or two ways…
1. Talk to a psychologist or mental health professional to examine the reasoning behind social isolation.
2. Sit and write down your fears associated with being around other people.
Ask yourself the following questions:
“How does social interaction make me feel?”
“Am I afraid of embarrassment?”
“Am I worried about forming relationships because of fear of embarrassment?”
By doing this, you are taking a step forward toward discovering underlying issues with your depression.
Related Articles: 8 Hidden Depression Symptoms You May Be Overlooking
Ways To Increase Social Interaction
1. Set A Goal
This is straight forward and simple toward increasing your social interaction.
However, when facing a depressive episode it’s not always easy. Effort equals trying.
You need to put effort into trying to increase social Interaction with people.
Make it a goal to become more involved with activities that increase your exposure to the outside world. But with depression symptoms, you may find it hard to put effort into simple tasks.
Many people with depression struggle to complete everyday tasks such as showering or finishing a task at hand.
Since this is a normal depression symptom, you need to make it a goal to try and increase social Interaction with other people.
A goal will help you take responsibility for bettering your mental health.
You don’t have to set a large goal. Just start with a small goal for social interaction you know you can handle and complete.
For instance, don’t set a goal of going out with friends three times a week.
This may be unattainable when suffering with depression.
Instead, set a goal like… I will meet with a friend once a week.
This is more obtainable and you won’t feel as guilty if you don’t follow through with the goal.
2. Don’t Use Social Media
Social media is an easy way to stay connected with friends and family.
But how connected are you really? Hitting a like button on a friends post does not provide the social interaction you need to improve our mental wellbeing. You need face-to-face contact.
No matter what social media channel you engage with the most, there is a level of superficial happiness.
We like tweets, updates and pictures of friends we have spent any time with for years.
While social media is a great tool to connect people all over the world, it isn’t great for mental health.
Numerous studies have found a connection between increased social media use and an increase in depression symptoms.
So, what does that teach us?
For one, social media just doesn’t beat face to face interaction with people. And second, those who use less social media find themselves to be happier.
If you want to improve your depression, do not rely on social media to make connections.
To better your depression, only use social media s a way of getting a hold of someone in order to meet face-to-face.
(I’m not saying you need to drop social medial altogether, but the less you use it, the more your depression will decrease).
3. Find Support
Sometimes there’s no greater comfort than knowing someone is struggling through the same things you are.
If you find yourself struggling with depression symptoms that are causing you to social isolate from others, then odds are you’re in good company.
Find a support group near you to accomplish the following:
Find someone to listen and support you with your depression
Increase face-to-face interaction
Make a new friend with common mental health goals
Think about what causes you can get behind. Whether it’s volunteering at a community center for at-risk kids or an animal shelter, there’s something for everyone.
Volunteering your time provides you with may benefits, not only to your depression but also to your social skills.
By volunteering you gain confidence to interact socially with others, while fulfilling your basic human need for social interaction.
5. Enroll In A Class
If you’ve been needing to express your creative side, try enrolling in a local class.
Many community centers, colleges and cities offer classes in a variety of interests from sports to painting.
Not only will you discover a new creative talent to help built your confidence, but also interact with others.
Here are some ideas for possible classes you may enjoy:
6. Find An Inner Circle
Ask yourself: Who are the most important people in my life?
These people are who you consider to be most important should be caring and supportive when it comes to your depression.
They the struggle you go through and yet they don’t care. They’re still there for you.
When I think of important people who would form an inner circle I think of parents, cousins, friends…
Anyone who believes, supports and goes out of their way to spend time with you.
If you don’t have an inner circle of support, think of ways to gain an inner circle by reaching out to people you care about most.
Sometimes the quantity of friends does don’t equal quality.
You can have many people in your life, but many come and go.
To help your depression it’s important to feel comfortable around a select few people compared to many.
These select few people will help your depression with increased face to face social interaction.
How Social Isolation Affects Depression
If there’s one thing that research has found to be true time and time again it’s this: Social isolation is common among individuals with mental health issues.
So, if you’re feeling like your social withdrawal is out of the ordinary for people with depression, don’t worry it’s quite common.
There’s nothing to be ashamed about.
In a study conducted by an Australian mental health support group, 66% of people with a mental illness reported they felt “socially isolated” compared to 10% of people without mental illnesses.
According to the study, the 66% of individuals with mental illness believe their social isolation was caused by…
Lack of transportation
Lack of money
Fear of others
Misunderstanding about mental illnesses (stigma surrounding mental illness)
Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a stigma surrounding those with mental illness.
Many people believe those with a mental illness are unpredictable and sometimes violent.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
But because of this belief, many individuals with a mental illness (even depression) find it hard to participate in social interactions with others.
While this is a general fear among the public and those with a depression, isolating yourself from society will only make depression symptoms worse.
Social withdrawal has also been attributed to triggering the onset of mental illness.
What’s even more striking about the connection between social isolation and depression is that face-to-face social contact is essential for fighting depression, especially in older adults.
The risks of social withdrawal (apa.org)
Depression Traps: Social Withdrawal, Rumination, and More (webmd.com)
Social Loneliness May Make the Depressed Even More So | Psychology Today
Depression Makes Social Interaction Stressful | HealthyPlace