Signs you grew up lonely

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Loneliness

Short-term bouts of loneliness can occur to many people at some point in their lives. These types of feelings are typically brief and not considered chronic. However, when feelings of loneliness and isolation worsen and continue long-term, there may be more serious signs and symptoms to be aware of and steps you can take to help deal with chronic loneliness.

What is chronic loneliness?

Chronic loneliness occurs when feelings of loneliness and uncomfortable social isolation go on for a long period of time. It’s characterized by constant and unrelenting feelings of being alone, separated or divided from others, and an inability to connect on a deeper level. It can also be accompanied by deeply rooted feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, or social anxiety. 1

Ongoing loneliness can afflict even the most seemingly outgoing person. Being the "life of the party" doesn't necessarily exclude someone from being chronically lonely. This type of chronic, or long-term loneliness, can eventually impact all areas of your life.

What are the main signs and symptoms of chronic loneliness?

Chronic loneliness symptoms and signs can differ depending on who you are and your situation. If you consistently feel some or all of the following, you may be dealing with chronic loneliness:

  • Inability to connect with others on a deeper, more intimate level. Maybe you have friends and family in your life, but engagement with them is at a very surface level. Your interaction doesn’t feel connected in a way that is fulfilling and this disconnection seems never ending.
  • No close or "best" friends. You have friends, but they are casual friends or acquaintances and you feel you can find no one who truly "gets" you.
  • Overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where you are and who’s around. You can be at a party surrounded by dozens of people and, yet, you feel isolated, separate, and disengaged. At work, you may feel alienated and alone. Same on a bus, train, or walking down a busy street. It’s as if you’re in your own unbreakable bubble.
  • Negative feelings of self-doubt and self-worth. Does it feel like you are always less than enough? These feelings—long-term—are another possible symptom of chronic loneliness.
  • When you try to connect or reach out, it’s not reciprocated, and you’re not seen or heard.
  • Exhaustion and burn out when trying to engage socially. If you’re dealing with chronic loneliness, trying to engage and be social with others can leave you feeling exhausted. Continued feelings of being drained can lead to other issues like sleep problems, a weakened immune system, poor diet, and more.

Can chronic loneliness lead to health problems?

Long-term feelings of loneliness can affect your health in many ways. For example, chronic loneliness can drive up cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that your body creates when under stress. Over time, higher cortisol levels can lead to high blood pressure, excess weight gain, muscle weakness, problems concentrating, and more.2

If left unchecked, these chronic loneliness symptoms can put you at greater risk for more serious medical and emotional problems, including:3

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease

If you think you are suffering with long-term feelings of loneliness, talk to your doctor or a therapist.

What does chronic loneliness do to your brain?

Research shows that chronic loneliness can have a significant impact on your overall health, including your brain health. Some studies even suggest that there may be a link between loneliness and an increased risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer's.3

Long term feelings of loneliness and social isolation can also reduce cognitive skills, such as the ability to concentrate, make decisions, problem-solve, and even change negative self-beliefs. And it can ultimately lead to depression.4

Who’s most at risk for chronic loneliness?

Chronic, or long-term, loneliness can afflict all types of people. It’s easy to assume that someone who’s naturally shy and introverted might be most at risk, but outgoing, Type A, personalities can also suffer from chronic loneliness, even though they may appear to be the life of the party. This type of loneliness is not exclusive to any one personality type.

For some people chronic loneliness may become a side effect of a medical or emotional problem, including those dealing with the following issues:

  • Substance use
  • Depression and bipolar disorder
  • Serious illness or disease
  • Some mild forms of autism, such as Asperger's Syndrome
  • Dementia and Alzheimer's
  • Sexual orientation issues

All of these issues could also lead to long-term feelings of loneliness and isolation. Make sure your doctor, therapist, or other medical provider knows how you’re feeling emotionally.

What are some tips for dealing with chronic loneliness?

If you are dealing with feelings of loneliness that just don't go away, consider these tips:

  • Talk to your doctor, a therapist, or another health care professional. Chronic loneliness isn’t limited to feelings of social isolation and alienation from others. It is often tied to ongoing and deeply rooted negative beliefs about yourself that can eventually lead to other medical and emotional problems. Let someone know what’s going on.
  • Engage with other people in a positive, healthy way. Even though it may be difficult, try making the effort to connect with others. Volunteering, hobby clubs, workout groups, and other opportunities, can help boost self-esteem and provide a safe and satisfying way to connect with others.
  • Get some exercise and sunlight. Getting active and out in the sunshine can help elevate endorphins and serotonin. 5 These “brain hormones” can boost mood, help improve sleep, and make people feel happier.
  • Find a support group, especially if chronic loneliness is a side effect of some other issue you might be dealing with, such as substance use, loss of a loved one, loneliness from a divorce or break up , a chronic and isolating illness, etc. Receiving support and encouragement from others who may share similar feelings, could help ease symptoms of chronic loneliness.

If you are dealing with long term loneliness, the kind that doesn’t go away, talk to your doctor or another health care provider so they can help. Chronic loneliness is not just about feeling alone; if left unchecked it can put you at risk for serious physical and emotional issues.

18 Signs You Grew Up Chronically Lonely

Growing up, most of us aren’t taught about our feelings and mental health. So if you are a kid struggling with the uncomfortable feeling of loneliness, it’s easy to think there’s just something wrong with you.

What might look like “being shy” or being an “imaginative” kid on the outside can sometimes be indicative of a deeper struggle. It’s important to remember young people do experience loneliness — and we need to know the signs. To find out how people knew (in hindsight) that they struggled with loneliness as a kid, we asked our mental health community to share signs they experienced chronic loneliness growing up.


Here’s what they had to say:

  1. “Chasing people who don’t want you for affection they aren’t going to give you. It’s so easy for someone to lead you on and it causes such bad downward spiral. I’ve never felt more alone than when you realize you have been used and discarded.” — Callum C.
  2. “I made up lots of stories and things about myself, to make myself seem ‘tough’ and ‘hardcore’ for attention, and because I felt no one would be around long enough to figure out I was lying.” — Amanda Z.
  3. “Over-talking whenever there’s someone to talk to, because having no one for long periods makes it just pour out even if you’re aware it’s incredibly socially awkward. ” — Violet F.
  4. “I grew up isolated. For a while, I hoarded pets because I was so alone in the world. No one understood or cared about my existence. My animals were my only friendships, my companions, my only reason for living. I rescued as many as I could to find worthy purpose in a lonely reality.” — Nicole E.
  5. “Never having one best friend, a person. I always volunteered to work events because it kept me busy and the work gave me satisfaction. Aside from my husband and son, I end up going weeks without talking to anyone. When I was young, I read for companionship; now I have Netflix.” — Lynn L.
  6. “I read a lot and before I could read I had a vivid imagination. When no one wants to play with you or you have no one to go out with as an adult at night, reading books is your best friend. That and my animals.” — Jennifer D.
  7. “I always felt lonely and found it very disturbing. Daydreamed a lot, literally every second. I searched for people’s attention, tried to make everybody happy to fill that hole in my heart. I completely forgot myself over helping others and making others happy, no matter the cost. It drained me so much that I had extreme suicidal thoughts. Kept on going like this for years.” — Saraya V.
  8. “I cling emotionally to others who I’ve grown close to and reach out for support from my closest friends because my own parents don’t interact with me as much. I don’t always start conversations much because I feel awkward around strangers. I want to fit in and be around people, but that constant feeling of becoming a burden stops me in my tracks and keeps me in my head when I head out of my house. I’m in college, so the friends I make leave anyway.” — Vanessa B.
  9. “Assuming that I was the ‘disposable’ person in the group, and that I wasn’t there because anyone was really friends with me, but just because they didn’t want to look rude. I had a firm conviction that I would always be lonely, which I struggle with to this day. I never thought of myself as anyone’s true friend, just someone they allowed in their group, and who they might leave behind at a moment’s notice. ” — Jacinta M.
  10. “I used to go in the bathroom and spends hours in the bathtub full of water. I always needed to lie down after doing simple everyday task. I would be extremely exhausted some days.” — Nica C.
  11. “I talk to myself and I would stare obsessively at pictures of musicians or actors and talk with them. I would live in my head and make up friendships with them.” — Stephanie H.
  12. “Chasing people, being used by people and discarded like rubbish, wanting friends and a possible relationship, but [being] terrified at the same time. Anxiety around people, isolating myself and pushing people away.” — Justin L.
  13. “I get obsessive towards a person who wants to be friends or talks to me. Any interaction, I obsess…” — Sarah S.
  14. “I was attention-deprived as a kid, so I developed attention-seeking behaviors. I took baths and played with rubber toys, making up pretend worlds with pretend friends until I was about 12.” — Lizzy M.
  15. “Excessive helpfulness/having to make everyone food anytime they come over. If I keep helping them, they’ll hang out longer.” — Cheyenne L.
  16. “I never learned how to make and keep friendships. At church I’m very outgoing, but at home, I can always just stay alone and be fine. I have only had one BFF.” — Steve H.
  17. “I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Socializing is wanted, but exhausting. I feel like I can’t connect with anyone. No best friend, never been in a relationship.” — Tepp V.
  18. “Super active imagination. I had tons of imaginary friends and used to imagine living far, far away.” — Shelley A.

If you grew up chronically lonely, you’re not alone. We are so grateful you’re here and in our community. If you’re struggling, we encourage you to post a Thought or Question about it on the site to get support from other people in our community who get it.

Share Your Experience With a Community That Cares

You can now post Thoughts on The Mighty. Here’s how.

Unsplash photo via Aleyna Rentz

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Five myths about loneliness: is it really that bad?

  • Claudia Hammond
  • BBC Future

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Image copyright, Getty Images

Loneliness is often called the main problem of modern man - they say that in the world it has already grown into a real epidemic. But is it true that things are getting worse?

At some point in life, each of us feels lonely. For society, this can grow into a real problem, and in some places it has already grown: for example, a new minister has appeared in the UK government - for loneliness.

  • Country where visitors suffer the most from loneliness
  • Peak of loneliness? The age at which we say goodbye to youth

Loneliness is a serious thing, it causes many troubles, but at the same time it is surrounded by many myths. Here are five of the most common.

1) Loneliness is isolation from society

Loneliness is not at all the same as being alone. Loneliness is a disconnection with the outside world, this feeling that no one around you understands you, and you do not have real, meaningful relationships with people.

Insulation may play a role, but it is far from being the only one. You can feel lonely in the crowd - and, conversely, you can be absolutely happy when no one is around. (When the BBC did a study on how people relax, it turned out that the five most popular types of recreation are associated with loneliness - not in the sense of feeling, but when a person is alone. ).

  • Complete isolation: what can be good in life without communication?
  • Internet survey: the best vacation is alone

Sometimes you even want to be alone. However, if you do not have the opportunity to spend time with people who understand you, then loneliness falls upon you.

2) An epidemic of loneliness is now raging in the world

The problem of loneliness, of course, began to pay more attention, but this does not mean that the percentage of lonely people has increased compared to previous years or decades.

Using research data dating back to 1948, Christina Victor of Brunel University London found that the proportion of older people who experience chronic loneliness has remained the same over the past 70 years (between 6 and 13% admitted to feeling lonely all the time, or most part of time).

  • Loneliness in modern society: search for oneself or illness?

But it is also true that there are more and more lonely people - simply because the population of our planet is constantly increasing. And the more lonely people in the world, the more sadness.

3) Loneliness is always bad

People suffer from loneliness. However, it is good that such a state is often only temporary and far from always negative. It can signal to us that it's time to make new friends or try to find a way to improve existing relationships.

Image copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Image caption,

Do older people really suffer from loneliness more than others?

Neurologist John Cacioppo believes that the ability to feel lonely has gradually developed in humans - so that we would like to maintain relationships with others.

He compares it to thirst. When you are thirsty, you look for water. When you are alone, you seek the company of other people.

For thousands of years, people have survived in communities, in cooperation and mutual assistance. So the survival mechanism pushes us to social connections.

  • For joy or for sorrow: what social networks do with my depression
  • Facebook: monetization of human loneliness?

Although loneliness is usually a temporary condition, it is true that when it becomes chronic, the consequences can be severe.

There is evidence that it affects our sense of well-being, may impair sleep, and lead to depression.

This feeling can lead you into a vicious circle: the more alone a person feels, the more he withdraws from society, which in turn makes him even more alone.

Studies show that if a person feels lonely, the risk that a year later they may experience symptoms of depression increases.

4) Loneliness leads to health problems

This myth is somewhat more complicated. You may have come across the statistics that loneliness is detrimental to health: the risk of heart disease and stroke almost triples, those who are lonely have higher blood pressure and lower life expectancy.

Photo credit, Stephen Pond/Getty Images for Sport England

Image caption,

First time ever: UK Loneliness Minister Tracey Crouch

All this is pretty serious, but many of these studies are only of a small amount of time, and we we cannot speak with confidence about the indispensable onset of the severe consequences of loneliness.

  • "There is nothing worse than loneliness": stories of young people with disabilities

Yes, people who have fallen out of society are more likely to get sick. But the opposite can also be true: a person is placed in a situation of isolation due to an illness that prevents him from communicating with others.

Or lonely people may be listed as less healthy in the statistics, because loneliness deprives them of the incentive to lead a healthy lifestyle.

5) Most older people suffer from loneliness

People experience loneliness more often in old age than at other times in their adult lives. But, as Pamela Qualter of the University of Manchester found out in her review of scientific research on loneliness at different ages, there is another peak of this state - at the time of growing up, during adolescence.

Meanwhile, studies show that 50-60% of older people rarely experience loneliness.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

While loneliness is usually temporary, the consequences can be severe if it becomes chronic

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We still don't know much about loneliness. The BBC decided to help scientists and is conducting an online survey, the questions of which were developed by psychologists from the universities of Manchester, Exeter and Brunel in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection (a London museum dedicated to the links between medicine, life and art. - Note translator ).

The survey is open to people from all over the world - whether you are old or young, feel lonely or not. His goal is to understand more about friendship, trust and learn about remedies for loneliness that really help.

Participate in the study (in English) here:

Legal information. This article is for general information only and should not be taken as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other healthcare professional. The BBC is not responsible for any diagnosis made by a reader based on material on the site. The BBC is not responsible for the content of other sites linked to this page and does not endorse commercial products or services listed on those sites. If you are concerned about your health, see your doctor.

Read the original of this article in English m f but on the website BBC Future .

How does loneliness affect health and what to do about it?

Psychologists believe that up to 20% of the world's population suffer from loneliness to one degree or another. It is likely that against the backdrop of quarantine measures around the world, this figure has increased significantly.

Ekaterina Filatova



Do you consider yourself lonely?

Contents of the article


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Health effects

Studies show that loneliness can cause serious damage to health if it weighs you down. There may be problems from cardiovascular diseases, various depressive states. The good news is that all these processes are quite easily reversible, and strong relationships with family and close friends reduce stress levels and improve immunity.

Loneliness is contagious

Just like any other experience, whether joyful and uplifting or anxious and depressing. Susan Newman, Ph.D. in psychology, says that when a person tells their loved ones about the feeling of loneliness they are experiencing, they begin to discover the same signs in themselves. According to a study published in the journal Social Psychology, the degree of distribution of this feeling reaches three: that is, it goes along the chain you are your friend / friend of your friend / friend of your friend.

With age, the feeling of loneliness increases

This is due to the fact that the closeness of relationships in our life is very often due to the similarity of interests and persists as long as the interests coincide. So, first you make friends at school, and then at university or at work. As long as you have a social circle in which you "cook in one topic", you do not feel alone. With the passage of life, and even more so with retirement, the social circle inevitably becomes smaller.

Loneliness shortens life

A five-year study of 300,000 older people around the world showed that lonely old people are 33% more likely to die in the same period as married old people.

The feeling of loneliness is reduced by joint activities with someone

In order to feel useful and get rid of anxious thoughts about loneliness, psychologists advise any group work, including volunteering, participation in public organizations, etc. . At the same time, you get a chance to find like-minded people who can become your friends.

Virtual connections

Although virtual connections cannot fully compensate for the lack of social interaction in the real world, they should not be neglected. If only because such communication is fast and easy, which means it can help you here and now, supporting your emotional state for a short time. With the right combination of circumstances, you can find common ground in real life, especially if you live in the neighborhood.

Technology is able to restore contacts with distant relatives

Now that almost the whole world is under quarantine, the feeling of loneliness is becoming a problem for many people.

Learn more