When exploring the relationship between depression and isolation, it's a bit of a "chicken or the egg" situation. Because depression and isolation are so closely linked, it can be difficult to discern which comes first and which one follows.
Those of us who have experienced depression know that it can leave us feeling like we want to withdraw and isolate. Likewise, prolonged periods of isolation can lead to depression, feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. Whether isolation is creating feelings of depression, or depression is causing the isolation, the decreased human interaction can wreak havoc on our mind, body, and spirit.
Connection is a Human Need As human beings we crave connection - we are not designed to be alone. We thrive in relation to one another, to see and experience others while feeling seen and understood ourselves. When we have human connection in our lives, we have higher self-esteem and compassion and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Taking Space vs Isolating It's important to note that some people do need some personal time. They need some time and space alone to recharge - and then they re-engage. In the context being discussed here, isolation pertains to someone being physically or emotionally disconnected from others and it having significant effects on that person's emotional and mental health. It's important to be aware of your intention behind taking a break from social connection - does it feel helpful or harmful? Too difficult to tell? Which list below resonates with you?
When we are in a depressive state or isolating - the last thing we want to do is reach out. It may feel overwhelming, like we don’t even know where to begin. The combination of depression and isolation can make us feel helpless and alone. If you can’t seem to shake the blues, or are feeling increasingly disconnected, a qualified wellness practitioner can help. A therapist, coach or holistic health provider can help you organize your thoughts, provide a trusted space to explore your feelings, and help you figure out your next step to wellness.