Living alone

4. Loneliness and depression

It is normal to feel lonely sometimes. However, if you don’t have people around you, or find it hard to stay in touch, you may start to feel lonely more often. Feeling lonely can make you feel less like doing things, which can make you feel more isolated. It’s important to try to break this cycle.

If you spend a lot of time on your own and don’t have much contact with others, or don’t have ways of occupying your time, you might become depressed. This is more than just feeling sad from time to time.

Depression is when feelings of sadness and hopelessness take over your life. It is a serious condition that can have a big effect on your life, but there are things you can do to deal with it and there is support available.

If you’re feeling lonely or depressed, the following may help.

  • Talking about your feelings is often the first step in dealing with them. If you feel lonely, low or depressed it can help to talk to other people such as friends or family. Try telling them how you are feeling. If people know that you aren’t feeling good, they may keep in touch or visit more regularly.
  • Try to do something you enjoy or something new – go to a new group or visit a museum, community or sports centre, for example. Doing something you enjoy might make you feel better.
  • Exercise can help if you’re feeling depressed or lonely. It can be difficult when you’re feeling low, but even going for a walk or doing some gardening can help. Try to find something you enjoy and that you want to do.
  • Try to do things even if you don’t feel like it. Feeling lonely or depressed can make you less motivated and less likely to do things, which can make you more lonely and depressed. It’s important to break the cycle - try to do something you enjoy such as going for a walk or seeing friends, even if it’s just for a little while.
  • There are helplines that you can call for help and advice – Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline is available on 0300 222 1122.
  • If you are finding everything too much, try talking to a professional. Your GP may be able to help, or refer you to a specialist for ‘talking therapy’ – where you talk about how you’re feeling to a professional such as a psychologist or counsellor.