What loneliness is trying to tell you?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Lonely person

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There is more than one type of loneliness.

As many as one in five people may be experiencing harmful Loneliness. Like other emotions, loneliness can sometimes be a good thing and other times be a significant emotional disturbance. Recently researchers examined harmful loneliness, its impact on psychological health and its connection with early childhood trauma.

Loneliness is not one of those disorders for which we have a test. The only way to measure loneliness is by personal report. While loneliness can cause significant mental health issues, the way the professional knows the client is lonely is when the client says they are lonely.

People who are low in loneliness.

Some people report little or no Loneliness. These people are generally satisfied with both the quality of their relationships and the quantitative of relationships they have. In a survey of the general population, close to 60% of people reported that they rarely felt lonely.

Social loneliness is a result of not enough personal contact.

Approximately 8% of people report having social loneliness. They are satisfied with the quality of the relationships they do have but feel they don’t have enough close relationships. Social loneliness is sometimes seen as a helpful thing. It tells you that you don’t have enough contact with other people and you need to expand your social circle.

Emotional loneliness is the result of poor-quality relationships.

Approximately 25% of people report being emotionally lonely.  They have enough friendships and other social relationships but are frequently dissatisfied with the quality of their close relationships. How supportive your close relationships are, determines whether feelings of loneliness may result in emotional issues.

Some people are both socially and emotionally lonely.

About one in eight people report that they are unhappy with their close relationships and that they also do not have enough friendships and other social relations. People with both types of loneliness are also more likely to have been the victims of trauma and to report Trust issues.

Who suffers the most from loneliness?

A little more than half the people in one survey reported that they were rarely lonely. They were neither socially nor emotionally isolated and lonely. Loneliness had the least impact on these people.

People who had good close relationships, but not enough social contact were slightly bothered by their loneliness. People who had social relationships but were unhappy with their close personal friendship were more likely to suffer from the ill effects of loneliness. Those people who were most likely to report suffering because of their loneliness were those who are both socially and emotionally lonely.

People who were either emotionally lonely or both socially and emotionally lonely are much more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and were more likely to have another emotional disorder. People who had been the victim of an early childhood trauma were far more likely to report poor quality personal relationships and resulting emotional loneliness.

Having high quality close emotional relationships is most likely to buffer someone from the ill effects of loneliness. Not feeling close to your romantic partner or your family is most likely to create the kind of negative loneliness that is harmful to your mental health.

If you are bothered by loneliness, ask yourself whether it is the result of too few friendships or not feeling close to your partner or family. Improving the quality of the relationships you do have is most likely to reduce your loneliness. If loneliness is dragging you down, consider getting professional help. Professional counseling can help you improve your part of the relationship and couples, or family counseling may help improve your close relationships.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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