It’s not uncommon for loneliness and isolation to accompany individuals actively struggling with mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders. Negative thoughts and emotions, when combined with the fear of stigmatization, keeps people with mental illness from socializing and makes them generally withdrawn. Social isolation increases a person’s feelings of shame and low self-esteem which are feelings to avoid in recovery from a mental illness.
Human and social connection are important to both our mental and physical health. Loneliness creates stress, in turn having a negative impact on our physical health. Friendships and social interactions provide an emotional outlet when we’re having difficulties with our schooling, jobs, relationships or are experiencing financial distress. When the body goes through stressful periods, it produces higher levels of the hormone, cortisol, which is directly linked to both isolation and depression.
When struggling with feelings of depression and self-isolation in recovery, there are a few things you can do to break those patterns.
- Exercise and yoga are two of the best ways to fight stress and depression. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new friends.
- Join a local 12-step or support group for your disorder.
- Talk to your personal therapist to help clear your mind.
- Take notice of your negative or self-defeating thoughts.
- Attempt to make friends by volunteering your time or by joining a church or club. Volunteering and the act of giving will bring rewarding experiences back into your life.
- Consider purchasing or adopting a pet. Pets become excited to see you even after you’ve been gone for a few hours.
- Consult with a psychiatrist or therapist regarding an antidepressant prescription. If you discontinued taking your prescribed medication, ask yourself why and re-consider taking it again.
- Surround yourself with happy people. You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.
- Set goals. Goal setting will provide you with direction and give yourself something to work towards daily. Incorporating friends into your goals is even better.
- Consider changing your diet and eating healthier. Processed foods have been linked to depression.
At Pasadena Villa, most of our clients are socially withdrawn when they first arrive and our group and socially integrative therapies are uncomfortable settings for them. However, with time, they tend to open and become more socially engaged with both the therapists and other residents. It’s very useful for people struggling with depression and other mental illnesses to engage and connect with others experiencing the same things.
The Pasadena Villa Network of Psychiatric Services includes adult intensive residential and outpatient treatment for individuals suffering from a mental disorder or co-occurring substance use disorder. We currently offer treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our Social Integration Model features utilize integrative group and community-based therapies aimed at building social skills and independence. To learn more about enrolling at Pasadena Villa, please fill out our contact form or call our admissions office at 407-574-5190.