1 IN 3 aUSTRALIANS FEEL LONELY

1 in 6 feel lonely often or all of the time

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Loneliness is a normal human emotion. Loneliness can happen to anyone. Of Any Age. In fact, short, but intense periods of loneliness can motivate people to reconnect socially, so they no longer feel lonely.

Types of loneliness

There are different types of loneliness. Some people experience one main type of loneliness, whilst others have a combination of these feelings(1).

Emotional loneliness involves feeling a lack of close friendships or intimate personal relationships. E.g., When someone you were very close with is no longer there. Being unable to find a life partner, trusted companion or best friend. 

Social loneliness involves a sense of not being embedded in a social network, for example at work, school, church, sports club, or other community group.

Existential loneliness is a broader feeling of not connecting with others or the world outside, alienation and emptiness, and a lack of meaning in life. Emotional loneliness is often described in association with serious illness, dying, traumatic events, and concern for the future – when questions about the meaning of life are prioritised.

 

Loneliness can vary in frequency, duration, and intensity (2).

Brief or transient feelings loneliness

Can be unpleasant but manageable. In fact, short, but intense periods of loneliness can motivate people to reconnect socially, so they no longer feel lonely.

Chronic loneliness

When loneliness is intense, frequent and enduring (often called chronic loneliness) it can be very distressing. Often this leads to social withdrawal, further deepening feelings of loneliness and making it more difficult to manage.

 

Is there a difference between loneliness, mental health disorders and depression?

It is important to know that loneliness isn’t a mental health disorder. Loneliness isn’t the same as depression either. If left unchecked, loneliness can start to affect our mental health but it’s important to know that first and foremost, it’s a normal and natural feeling.

 

Click here to the right to complete the UCLA Loneliness Scale measure of loneliness to understand more about how loneliness may be present for you.

NOTE: This online screening is not a diagnostic tool.

Health effects of loneliness

Loneliness is one of the biggest health challenges we face. Research shows that frequent, intense, or persistent loneliness is harmful to our physical and mental health.

Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of…

Importantly, people who are lonely are less physically active, sleep well less, and take more medication, which further contributes to poor health and wellbeing.

IMPROVING SOCIALLY CONNECTEDNESS IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Good news is that there are things that you can do to reduce loneliness.

People with better social connections experience many benefits including less stress, feeling valued and having longer, happier lives (3).


Recognising and acknowledging that you are feeling lonely is the first step to making change. But you don’t need to do it alone.

A life less lonely – now that’s good medicine

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How can I respond to my feelings of loneliness?(4)

It is not always easy to respond to your feelings of loneliness. Be kind to yourself as try new ways of connecting with other people.

  1. Recognise and acknowledge that you are feeling lonely – This is the first step towards achieving change.
  2. Get support to help reframe negative thoughts – This may include learning to reframe your thinking.
  3. Learn new social skills – it may be helpful to get support to learn new social skills. Skills like active listening may lead to more meaningful connections.
  4. Stop comparison – go offline from social media.
  5. Expect change – It’s natural for relationships to change over time. Knowing this can help you adjust your expectations.
  6.  Be proactive and try different ways to connect – get involved in different activities that interest you. This may be a hobby or a volunteer position.
  7. Start a conversation – Small talk can go a long way.
  8. Nurture relationships that are rewarding to you – Put time and effort into rewarding relationships so that they continue to flourish.*
  9. Set small goals to connect and be persistent – it takes time to invest and develop meaningful connections

When to see the doctor

If loneliness is interfering with your life, it’s important to see your doctor or another health professional such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

 


If you have thoughts about suicide, seek immediate help.

 

You can call:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

There are also several Australian mental health services you can reach out to for support if you are concerned about yourself, or someone else.

Beyond Blue: beyondblue.org.au

Black Dog Institute: blackdoginstitute.org.au

Headspace: headspace.org.au

Disclaimer

General advice only – this information should not replace the information provided to you by your health care professional. If symptoms are severe or persist, please speak to your healthcare professional. Information is current as of date of publishing..