Loneliness is on the rise among people all over the world, and it is impacting the mental health of men and women. However, loneliness has some unique effects on women’s mental health. Let’s take a look.
1. Lonely women distance themselves from friends and family, and distance increases their loneliness.
Loneliness makes one feel disconnected from other people. This disconnection leads to women spending less time with loved ones and more time in their own company. Based on personal observation, social isolation happens after a woman has disclosed she is lonely, and the loved one doesn’t help her overcome loneliness.
Unfortunately, social isolation only worsens loneliness. And the lonelier she gets, the harder she struggles to maintain relationships, let alone establish new ones. Over time, she may even begin to wonder whether there was anything real about the relationship. Once this thought enters her mind, she may never reach out to that person(s) again.
2. Lonely women use social media frequently, and it impacts their mental health.
The end of their social life leads to spending more time on social media, which is a surefire way to harm anyone’s mental health. Seeing endless curated posts about #FriendshipGoals and #WeekendWellSpent worsens loneliness and overall mental health.
Overconsumption of social media makes one compare their life with that of the people they see on the screen.
The lonely woman is now more aware than ever that she does not belong to any social group, and her quality of life is poor. She is likely to blame herself for not being able to cultivate meaningful relationships. She may feel she is boring, needy, and has nothing to offer. Thoughts like these damage her self-esteem and inevitably cause depression.
3. Lonely women lack quality friendships, which worsens loneliness.
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, women focus on the quality of their friendships instead of quantity. Meaningful friendships, wherein we are accepted, supported, and valued matter to us.
Sadly, true friends are hard to find, especially because many of us retain friendships purely on sentimental value. Yes, it can be hard to let go of a childhood or a high school friend, but if they aren’t enriching your life today, the right thing to do is to say goodbye. Friendship cannot last long when two people have opposing core values or if only one person tries to sustain it. To overcome loneliness, women need at least one friend who understands and supports them. Being single can be good for women’s mental health, but being friendless isn’t.
4. Loneliness can result from mental & physical health issues – and intensify them.
Nobody knows whether loneliness causes depression or depression causes loneliness. What we do know is that both of them often coexist. Other mental health issues like anxiety and PTSD also cause loneliness. Living with physical health issues like lupus and cancer also leads to loneliness.
Chronic mental and physical health conditions can get so exhausting that it is hard to make time for friends. Should women with these conditions waste their limited energy on superficial friendships? Well, I am one of these women, and believe me, friendships are crucial. We need quality friends to beat loneliness and strengthen our immune systems. Forming friendships with those fighting similar conditions or empathetic people is hard but worth it.
5. Lonely women are ignored by other women, leading to despair, emptiness, and depression.
We live in a time where people publicly declare that mental health matters, and they are available for anyone who needs support. Unfortunately, these are often empty words. Because whenever I reached out to women in my networks for support, the standard response was curt. Most women didn’t reply even though they had ‘Seen’ my message. It made me feel unworthy, empty, and depressed in the past. I am less affected by their apathy now that I know it’s not me, it’s them.
Things should not be this way. Women’s mental health issues are minimized and ignored by society. Why are we undermining each other by emulating a sick society? We can rise higher if we stick together. It’s also how we can disprove the stereotype that women are their own worst enemies. If we stay divided, we are letting patriarchy win and contributing to the loneliness epidemic.