All about loneliness

Everyone gets lonely sometimes but not everyone knows what loneliness actually is and the common causes of loneliness in life. There are heaps of strategies you can use if you’re feeling lonely, but working out why you’re lonely is the first step.

This might help if you:

  • You want to know more about loneliness
  • You feel lonely or isolated
  • You want to know about causes of loneliness
  • You feel like you’re all alone
  • You want to know what to do about loneliness

What is loneliness

Feeling lonely doesn’t have to mean that you’re just physically alone. Some people feel lonely even when they’re in a crowded room of people or at a party. To feel lonely is to have an overwhelming feeling of being separate from those around you. It’s a normal emotion and often a part of growing up, as things like moving out of home, going to a new school or any other changes can make us feel isolated.

Some reasons people feel lonely include:

  • Technology. Though the internet and mobile phones are awesome, they can sometimes make us feel detached from the world around us. Seeing other people online who seem to have loads of comments or heaps of followers can sometimes make us feel unpopular or lonely.
  • Not fitting in. If you’re in an environment where you don’t feel comfortable, it’s not unusual to feel a bit lonely. This is particularly tough if you’re being bullied or discriminated against, or if you don’t understand the common social interactions for the situation.
  • No one listens to you. When you’re young, it can feel like no one listens to you or takes you seriously. This can make you feel more alone or not important. 
  • Physical isolation. sometimes we’re in a situation where there’s just no one around. This can be as a result of moving to a new place, living alone, family moving away or someone dying.

Common causes of loneliness

Though there’s no one reason people feel lonely, there can be things that contribute to loneliness and a feeling of isolation.

Some people who are particularly at risk of loneliness include:

People with mental illness. People who are living with mental illness are particularly prone to feeling lonely. This can be as a symptom of the illness itself or particular things that make it hard to make friends or get out and about. Anxiety, in particular, can make it difficult to make friends and meet new people.

Lone carers. If you’re caring for someone it can be very difficult to leave the house and get out and about. It is not uncommon for lone carers to feel isolated or alone, particularly if they don’t receive respite or support.

People with physical disability. People with a physical disability are at risk of experiencing loneliness for a number of reasons. Stigma and disadvantage can cause people who experience a physical disability to feel excluded from social activities.

People experiencing discrimination. Being treated as different from others can often make people feel lonely or isolated. Being discriminated against because of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or any other cause can not only result in physical isolation but also a feeling of being separate from those around you.

While some situations make people more prone to loneliness, it's also really important to remember that just about everyone feels lonely from time to time. To hear from some young guys about their experiences with loneliness, be sure to check out our Real Talk: Feeling Lonely vox pops. 

How to cope

There are a number of coping strategies you can use to help overcome loneliness, not least having a chat to someone about how you’re feeling. However, sometimes if it becomes ongoing it might be a sign of something a bit more serious. If you can’t put your finger on why you feel lonely or if it’s something that has been going on for a while, check out 'I feel so alone' fact sheet for more info.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 28 April, 2016
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  • ClaytZ86    (1251 days ago)

    Guys, thanks for both your replies and your advice. I tried the forums here, but they aren't working for me. When I click the links, nothing happens.

  • ClaytZ86    (1254 days ago)

    A few years back, I went through workplace bullying, where I found out a few people were talking about me behind my back, got into an argument with a security guy. I quit my job, nearly had a nervous breakdown. I'm still unemployed, and feel anxious about going out. I went back to TAFE to study I.T. but I failed the whole course. So I don't know where this leaves me now. I feel like I don't have the skills for any job out there, and probably won't fit in anyway.

  • ClaytZ86    (1254 days ago)

    No one speaks to anymore. I don't get messages, emails, phone calls etc. I am usually home on weekends, with nowhere to go. I still live with my parents, even though I'm nearly 28. Everyone is spending Christmas this year with their wives, children, friends etc and I just don't have any of that. I feel like whenever I go out these days, I have a hard time connecting with people and fitting in now. I feel like a child, and I feel like I've missed out on so many opportunities in life, because I just didn't have anyone to spend time with. I want a partner, but I've been rejected so much, I don't even care anymore. I don't even know how to act or look "normal" anymore. I have nothing to say anymore. I want to go out, but I look and feel awkward and people stare at me, and now today, my car has broken down as well!! Ugh!! I've never felt more lonely in my life.

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