Loneliness, that universal feeling of being alone, is something we all encounter at some point in our lives. A global survey conducted in 2021 reported that almost 43% of Indian people struggle with loneliness. While it is common and natural to feel lonely occasionally, chronic and persistent loneliness can harm one’s physical and emotional well-being. In this article, we’ll explore how loneliness affects our mental health.

Mental Health and Loneliness: How Are They Linked?

There has been a lot of research to suggest that chronic illness can cause significant risks to one’s mental well-being. Thus, understanding the effects of loneliness is a crucial step towards breaking free from it. Some effects of loneliness are:

  • Anxiety and Depression

Loneliness has been significantly linked to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. A research study found that people with feelings of loneliness are at a higher risk of developing symptoms of depression. In another study from 2018, which analyzed 88 studies examining the correlation between loneliness and depression, it was found that loneliness has a significant influence on the risk of developing depression. 

Loneliness shares a cyclical relationship with both anxiety and depression, whereby symptoms of anxiety and depression can cause loneliness, while loneliness can also lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression, suggesting that loneliness shares a strong connection with both anxiety and depression. Loneliness has also been linked with an increased risk of self-harm 

  • Substance Abuse

Loneliness can contribute to the development of addictions, as people might turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with feelings of loneliness. Many studies suggest that people experiencing loneliness and engaging in heavy drinking face an increased risk of developing alcohol addiction Loneliness can also be a factor in worsening an already existing substance abuse problem. 

  • Loneliness And Stress

Social support is an effective way of coping with stress. However, a lack of social support can make it harder for people to cope with stressors in life. Loneliness has also been linked with increased production of the stress hormone within the body, which causes the mind and the body to experience stress more intensely. 

  • Other Issues

Apart from the issues mentioned above, loneliness can also lead to other issues, such as:

  • Faster decline in cognitive functions related to social interaction and memory
  • Lowered quality of sleep or difficulty falling asleep at night

How to Deal With Loneliness?

Loneliness is a universal emotion, yet it can be very complex. As everyone experiences loneliness differently, coping mechanisms for loneliness can vary depending on individual preferences. Here are some ways to deal with loneliness:

  • Don’t try to avoid feelings of loneliness; avoiding them can only make them worse. Instead, practice accepting these feelings and understand that it is normal to feel lonely sometimes.
  • Consciously make time for your family and friends so that you feel more connected with them. Try to be connected via technology if you live alone for your job or other reasons.
  • Engage in hobbies that involve other people. Consider joining a reading or exercise group, depending on your interests. Exploring your interests can bring opportunities for new connections
  • Consider adopting a pet. Pets can offer constant companionship and help reduce loneliness.
  • Consider joining a support group for people experiencing loneliness. Joining a support group can help you feel connected while also allowing you to share your opinions and learn from other people 
  • If feelings of loneliness persist, consider consulting a trained therapist. A therapist can help you identify the root cause of loneliness while also helping you develop skills to overcome it.


Loneliness is a common yet complex state of mind. Persistent loneliness can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from others. It can also contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and substance use. Persistent loneliness can also be an indication of deeper, underlying issues. Thus, overcoming loneliness is crucial for mental and physical well-being. 


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Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin