Neuro Harmony, LLC
Licensed Clinical Counseling in Charleston, Illinois

Neuro Notes

When does Loneliness become isolation?

Aug 7




Hard questions often times don't have easy answers. Today's topic fits that mold.

We will discuss how or when loneliness becomes isolation. Let’s start with defining these words. (From Merriam-Webster)

 Loneliness ~ (Noun):

  1. Being without company (lone)
  2. Cut off from others (solitary)
  3. Not visited by other human beings (desolate)
  4. Sad from being alone (Lonesome)

Isolation ~ (Verb) is defined as:

  1. To set apart from others (Quarantine)
  2. To select from among others (Solitary)

Some people use the words “isolation” and “loneliness” interchangeably, but this does not reflect the true meaning of each term. Isolation may lead to loneliness, and in some cases, loneliness may exacerbate isolation. Both have been found to occur with other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

Knowing how loneliness and isolation are distinct and related can help people who struggle with them best address and work through these issues. Here are a few things to know about handling loneliness and social isolation in your life.

 Isolation specifically may be characterized by:

  • Staying home most or all of the time
  • Refusing interpersonal interaction
  • Avoiding social situations

But is loneliness really increasing, or is it a condition that humans have always experienced at various times of life? In other words, are we becoming lonelier or just more inclined to recognize and talk about the problem? Talking is good and takes a lot of courage to do sometimes.



Sometimes loneliness and/or isolation present as primary symptoms of a mental health issue.

For example, if someone suddenly begins to pull away from friends and family, this could indicate that a number of potential issues. They could have depression or an eating disorder, or they may be affected by an abusive relationship. Isolation may be a first sign of many mental health issues, so identifying the unique context of each situation is key in order to understand it.

Loneliness and isolation can be symptoms of the following mental health issues, among others:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
  • Bipolar
  • Borderline personality


Just as with any other issue, some people may be more susceptible to isolation and loneliness than others, although anyone can become isolated or feel lonely. People who have recently had traumatic life changes, who live in tumultuous home environments, or who have witnessed, or experienced domestic violence or abuse may be more prone to both loneliness and isolation.

For example, a person who’s recently been divorced and has moved to a new neighborhood may feel the absence of their former partner and community, causing them to be lonely. Additionally, an elderly person whose spouse has died may be isolated in their day-to-day life, which may lead to loneliness and poor health.

People who live in abusive homes may isolate themselves because the shame of their environment makes them think they can’t talk with others about their life. They may also feel intensely lonely if they become worried no one will be able to relate to their life experiences.




If you’re feeling lonely or experience isolation for long periods of time, it may help to reach out to a licensed mental health professional who can offer support as you work through those struggles. Not addressing prolonged loneliness and isolation can negatively impact your physical and mental well-being.

If there is a deeper mental health issue causing your feelings of loneliness or isolation, a therapist can help treat that issue and put you on the path to your best self.

 Remember that you are not alone and there is never shame in asking for help. Reach out! Call 217.508.8080, We would love to help improve your life today.

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