Mental illness can lead to many people feeling an overwhelming sense of isolation. However, feelings of intense loneliness aren’t in themselves a sign of mental illness but the two are inextricably linked. Sufferers of mental health issues may feel an increased need to withdraw into themselves and if left untreated, the subsequent feelings of isolation can prolong suffering even further. Mental health treatment centers provide considerable support to reduce isolation and loneliness, counseling patients on the positive benefits of social engagement.
The majority of people need to make regular social contact for a good sense of mental wellbeing. Some people prefer the company of a few people they know well and others are more drawn to large groups with a mixture of old friends and new. Either way, when someone is suffering a mental health condition, social interaction can become a difficult issue which means that loneliness and isolation can often follow.
Increasing Social Circles Helps Overcome Feelings of Isolation
Feeling alone is quite different from being lonely. Often, people with mental health conditions will feel so misunderstood as to feel completely isolated, no matter how many people are around them. Feeling alone after a breakup, for example, is not the same as feeling isolated as a result of mental illness. Distinguishing between the two is important in planning the next step.
Although patients with mental health issues may have plenty of connections, prolonged periods of miscommunication and misunderstanding can harm important relationships. A good antidote to loneliness is to re-open communication with loved ones and family and verbalize those feelings in a non-judgmental environment.
Patients at mental health treatment centers are usually counseled on ways to overcome the intense feelings of loneliness and isolation that can accompany mental health conditions.
Here we provide some tips:
- Watch out for self-sabotage and curtail self-deprecating thoughts. Statements such as “I’m too ugly to get a date” or “people don’t find me interesting” certainly derail progress. Overcome negative statements by replacing with positive affirmations like “I’m great just the way I am” or “I welcome new friendships into my life” when self-sabotage is detected.
- Feelings of isolation are so negative because they validate fears of being unworthy of love and friendship. It often takes significant motivation to force patients to face fears head on by putting themselves out there to others.
- Ending toxic relationships is vital to combat isolation as many works on a dynamic that keeps people trapped in unhealthy behaviors and unable to deal with mental health issues. The space for new and healthier relationships has to be created before that space can be filled.
- Expanding social interaction online can open lots of doors to new experiences and friendships and is a good way of finding people with mutual interests. Keeping socially active online or especially offline is a great way to combat loneliness.
- It’s important for mental health sufferers to find their voice so they are able to verbalize and communicate how they feel with others to alleviate isolation and loneliness. Friends are often more responsive to calls for help than we realize but if we don’t ask, we don’t get.
- Enjoying being on one’s own is still a healthy option despite feelings of isolation. Meditation is a positive mindfulness practice that can bring a lot of quiet to the mind. Practices like meditation and yoga provide the tools to overcome isolation.
Professional counseling at a mental health treatment center is a healthy and proactive way to combat isolation for patients. It also assists in altering self-defeating behaviors that can contribute to feelings of loneliness even more. A therapist can counsel changes in relationship patterns and behaviors with positive results, leaving patients able to cope with any feelings of isolation on their own terms going forward.