02 Feb Depression and Isolation
It’s extremely easy for someone with depression to go into isolation. Feeling the need to disconnect and withdraw from others is a common thing among those with depression. People with depression lean towards isolation because they feel tired, ashamed, guilty, sad and hopeless. They may feel like interacting with others and pretending to be ok is too hard.
If you know someone with depression who has gone into isolation, there are a few steps you can take. But first, it’s important to understand depression and isolation and when to worry about it.
Why Social Isolation Is Dangerous
Humans are meant to be social and to engage with other people on a regular basis. Being social contributes to better emotional, mental and even physical health. There are a number of risk factors for social isolation, and depression is a major risk factor. If you know someone who is engaging in social isolation and also struggling with depression, there’s definitely a reason for concern. You can immediately take steps to help your loved one and help them get treatment for depression if necessary.
Depression is a fairly serious mental health condition that results in some of the following symptoms:
• Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
• Feeling hopeless
• Feeling guilt and shame
• Difficulty concentrating
• Eating or sleeping changes
• Increased need for isolation
These symptoms persist for days and weeks and can cause major impairment to a person’s relationships, work and school. Going into isolation is a fairly common thing for people with depression. Depression is exhausting to deal with every day, which causes sufferers to withdraw from others. They may describe social interaction as difficult and exhausting, which leads them to isolation instead. Unfortunately, isolation only makes depression worse and can lead to further mental health issues as well as drug use.
When To Worry About Depression and Isolation
Isolation is a common warning sign of depression. However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it’s not risky. Depression and isolation can be a dangerous combination. In fact, even without a depression diagnosis, you might be at risk for deteriorating mental health if you start going into isolation. Isolation can trigger sadness and loneliness in anyone, not just those with depression.
Studies have found that isolation has similar negative health effects to alcoholism or a bad cigarette habit. Isolation is actually worse for your physical health than being overweight. Premature death and isolation are linked as well.
As previously mentioned, depression often causes social withdrawal. It’s not always a huge cause for concern. For example, your loved one might spend the day in bed, but the next day they go out for fun. However, if the isolation becomes more persistent and severe, then you may have something to worry about. Consider the following signs of concerning isolation:
• Repeatedly refusing to leave their house
• Canceling plans regularly
• Not answering texts or phone calls
• Refusing to see anyone
If you have a loved one with depression who is withdrawing in a significant manner, then you should take some steps to engage them and keep it from getting worse.
How To Talk About Depression
It’s not an easy thing to talk about depression or social withdrawal. However, it’s important that you try. If you don’t know exactly what to say, that’s ok. Sometimes being a good listener is even more important. You can tell your loved one that you’re worried about their behavior and that you want to listen to their concerns. For people with depression, it’s very important and powerful to have someone express worry and concern over their problems. Make it clear to your loved one that you’re not trying to fix them or lecture them, but that you want to keep checking in and listening.
Ways To Counter Social Isolation
If you know someone with depression who is isolating, you can do a few things to engage them. Sometimes simply getting out of the house will be enough to change mood and perspective. However, it might take some effort to make this happen. You’ll generally want to avoid something stressful with too much social interaction. You might consider asking your loved one to go for a walk around the block or go sit in a park with a cup of coffee. Don’t suggest activities like parties or crowded restaurants. The idea is to simply get them out of their house and into something new and refreshing. You might be surprised at how much new surroundings and fresh air can help.
Avoid Depression and Isolation By Connecting With Others
Social connection is very important for people with depression. For example, a depression support group can be beneficial for helping a person get out of a withdrawal period. If your loved one doesn’t have the motivation to do this by themselves, you can take steps to encourage and support them. Look for a local group and offer to take them to meetings. If they aren’t willing to engage with a support group, you might consider increasing social interaction incrementally by bringing in other friends and family who are supportive and encouraging.
Self-Medicating Depression With Substance Use
One sad fact is that many people with depression resort to drug or alcohol use as a form of self-medication. Self-isolating only increases this risk. Alcohol and drugs may appear to alleviate depression symptoms at first, but it eventually makes them worse and can cause dependence and addiction. If you’re trying to increase social interaction with a loved one who has depression, it’s important not to engage in habits that might encourage substance abuse. For example, don’t go out drinking with them. Instead of coming over to their house and talking over a glass of wine, consider a homemade dinner and a cup of tea.
Residential Depression Treatment
When a person becomes severely withdrawn and unable to manage their depression symptoms, then it’s probably time to seek professional treatment. Residential care for depression is a good choice. The main reason is that it provides a safe and secure place for people to focus on therapy and healing. Temptations and triggers are almost completely eliminated in a residential care facility. It also gives people the opportunity to be part of a community with similar experiences. This can help depressed people bond and interact with others who are having some of the same struggles.
Being depressed is more than just feeling sad and tired for a few days. It’s a serious mental illness that can develop severe complications such as social withdrawal, substance abuse and other mental illnesses.
New Method Wellness is a dual diagnosis treatment center that provides therapy and professional care for those dealing with substance abuse and mental illness. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental illness and/or addiction, reach out to our compassionate staff today.
Find an effective treatment for depression today by calling New Method Wellness at 866.951.1824