Yes, loneliness is a bummer topic, and one of those that people respond to with the thought “NMP” (Not My Problem) and then change the channel. Yet it affects 25% of us in the USA, chronically. With the chronic nature of it come a host of health issues that can increase the chance of early death by up to 26%, according to the guru on the topic, John Cacioppo, a professor and researcher on the issue for more than twenty years. Why is this so?
Did you know there is a difference between being alone and loneliness? Lots of people enjoy being alone and even need alone time to recharge their batteries. They don’t feel alone when they are by themselves engaged in an activity, from simply ‘being’ to being deeply engrossed in a hobby or pastime. They likely get into a kind of pleasant flow that makes the passage of time seem impossibly fast. The difference is that loneliness is a feeling, one of perception. You can feel lonely inside of a marriage or partnership, and you can feel lonely when surrounded by friends and acquaintances.
Depression is beastly, but you can start to manage it a bit if it has a grip on you. I think of it as the “do-nothing disease.” It takes a toll in many ways, from causing you to withdraw to postponing making decisions because of a sort of paralysis that sets in. It has physical ramifications as well: too much sleep, too much food (or not enough), too little exercise, too much TV or screen time. In short, self care goes into the toilet.
“Professor Binns opened his notes and began to read in a flat drone like an old vacuum cleaner until nearly everyone in the class was in a deep stupor, occasionally coming round long enough to copy down a name or date, then falling asleep again.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
What kind of boredom are we talking about here? And is it linked to depression?
Q: What is possibly the worst thinking habit people with anxiety engage in?
A: The tendency to overestimate the intensity and duration of their emotional reactions to future negative events, deciding the impact will be much greater than it is in actuality.
The expression “you can’t see the forest for the trees” is all wrong when it comes to individuals with depression. They can’t see the trees. All they can see is a big, overwhelming forest.
Recently I was speaking with a client who was frightened of her ability to shift into a mood of despair that was so dark she disdained any possibility of the idea that she has control over this. She pursued research into depression (on the Internet) and drew even more attention to her low mood.
If you are asking this question, you must have some belief that negative self talk, self flagellation or just simply beating yourself up is a helpful device to get or keep yourself motivated. Let’s look at that more closely since most people do engage in this behavior quite frequently.
What if you were trained to look for the bad?
And what if your brain evolved to look for nothing but the bad?
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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