The Isolation Connection

Why do depressed people experience isolation?

Social isolation is another common symptom of depression and it goes without saying that this is probably the most problematic of them all.

A depressed individual can become completely disconnected with other people, including his/her psychiatrist and members of his/her support system. When a depressed individual completely shuts himself/herself off from contact with others, his/her journey to recovery grinds to a halt and the only way to jumpstart the process again is by reestablishing the lost connections, no matter how difficult the process may be.

Here are some essential reminders that will help remedy social isolation caused by depression:

  1. Get Out of the House – To many people, one’s home is the ultimate symbol of comfort and healing. It’s normally the “place to be” when you wish to rest from all the troubles and stresses of the outside world. To a depressed person, the house may transform from being a place of peace to a “hiding place” so that he/she doesn’t have to reach out to others anymore.

If you find yourself constantly hiding or retreating to your house so you can avoid talking to people, it’s time to end this vicious cycle.

Your home is likely becoming a prison for your mind, which isn’t functioning very efficiently because of your mood disorder. So from this day going forward, the first thing that you should think of whenever you wake up is not “I don’t want to get out of bed” but “who should I have fun with today?”

Yes, it’s going to be challenging to shift your mindset but at the same time, you’re going to kick start the inner healing necessary for full recovery by removing the “enabling mechanisms” of social isolation.

  1. Schedule Socializing – Depressed individuals are twice as likely to avoid returning calls, emails and other forms of communication. If you’ve observed the same trend in your life after being diagnosed with depression, what you can do to reverse it is to create a separate structure or routine for socializing with others so that you will always be able to reach out no matter what.

Take note that socializing doesn’t have to be a daily activity. While reaching out to your support network is ideal, many depressed individuals may find this type of structure stressful.

If you feel that once or twice a week is more than enough, then by all means, talk to people once/twice a week. What’s important is that you remain vigilant so you don’t regress to your old ways, which will lead to further social isolation.

  1. Engage in New Activities – Personal happiness and enjoyment are undoubtedly your best weapons against mood disorders. You won’t experience happiness if you allow yourself to become isolated in your room or house all day.

Ask yourself: what activities would make me the happiest at this point in time? Don’t afraid to “fan out” to unusual activities that you think would be enjoyable. Try new things! Ask friends and loved ones to accompany you on personal adventures.

When you start engaging in personal adventures, you will realize that your mood disorder doesn’t rule your life or define your existence.

The amount of enjoyment that you will get from engaging in activities that give you happiness or pleasure will help recondition your mind so that it will no longer be under the sway of depression. You will be able to cast aside the negative effects of depression in favor of more positive thoughts and emotions.

  1. Enjoy Peace & Solitude – You don’t have to socialize 24 hours a day. A few hours of socializing is healthy, followed by a moderate amount of time spent in solitude. Solitude is wildly different from social isolation because it doesn’t encourage you to disconnect with others. Solitude allows the mind and spirit to recuperate from the challenges and pressures of life. Time with yourself is different from being on your lonesome.

Practices such as Zen meditation will allow you to experience personal solitude on a daily basis.

Meditating, exercising and eating healthily are the cornerstones of a healthy mind. If you can add better sleep hygiene to the mix, you’re bound to recover from your mood disorder more quickly. Just keep in mind that you’re not going to accomplish everything in one day, but you can make great progress on a daily basis. Stay focused on your goals and you’re bound to recover from low mood issues in the near future.