Human beings have an inborn need to feel connected to others. We all need to feel like we belong, that we matter and that we are special to someone. Feeling alone is basically a threatening state. We don’t do well on our own. We cannot fulfill all of our own needs because one of our needs is to feel this sense of connection.
Loneliness is a state different from depression. It sometimes can lead to depression but it is not the same as depression. Emily White, in her book Lonely, Learning to Live with Solitude, states that
“with loneliness, that sense of a presence begins to vanish over time. What lonely people find themselves drowning in is absence. They have to struggle with the unnerving sense of being too much on their own, and having to rely on themselves in an effort to meet their own needs. And once the self has been searched and patted down for a sense of companionship – which is something it can’t provide – what the lonely person is left with is a worn-out, edgy sense of insufficiency”
Dr. John Cacioppo, one of the world’s leading loneliness researchers, says loneliness “can lead to dementia, early death, physical illness and behavioural changes.”
Psychotherapy can help you if you are suffering from loneliness. First of all to identify and validate it as a real state that is painful and debilitating. And secondly, the most important thing in a good therapy is the therapist-client relationship. This can be a starting place to understand and find ways out of the vicious cycle of loneliness. Many people who feel lonely sometimes find it increasingly painful to be around others, such as friends and family, and can withdraw making the loneliness worse. Psychotherapy may help to break this cycle.