Loneliness NZ

Loneliness Q&A: How...?

Search engines receive many questions about feeling alone and loneliness. In this page, we provide short answers to some of the more commonly searched ‘how’ questions.

For fuller answers, we encourage you to explore the website.


How do you become lonely?

Becoming lonely is a result of you feeling that you are missing a meaningful social connection with one or more people. You might be socially isolated from others and so have little opportunity to connect; or you could be amongst others and still feel the absence of a quality relationship.

How does loneliness affect health?

Physically, loneliness can lead to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, high stress-sensitive hormone cortisol, and altered gene expression. Mentally, loneliness can lead to social anxiety, depression, paranoia, dementia, and obsessive compulsive symptoms.

How does being lonely affect the mind and body?

Loneliness affects your mind by focusing inwardly, providing your brain with a signal that your world is not right- that you need to find a quality relationship, before you start experiencing depression. Loneliness affects your body by bringing down your immune system (experiencing more colds) and increased blood pressure.

How does loneliness feel?

Loneliness is an overwhelming persistent painful feeling of emptiness and numbness. It is a feeling of being discarded, unloved, or unwanted. Sometimes you know you are loved but you still feel no-one “gets you”. Those who are lonely may feel lost with no sense of direction.

How does loneliness affect mental health?

Loneliness is linked to mental health as a cause and a result. It can lead to social anxiety, depression, paranoia, dementia, and obsessive compulsive symptoms. Conversely being mentally ill can increase loneliness. Preventing or early intervening loneliness reduces the chances of becoming mentally ill.

How does loneliness kill?

Loneliness does not directly kill a person. However, there are many studies to show the serious consequences of chronic loneliness. The fully adjusted effects of chronic loneliness give rise to a 26% increase in the likelihood of premature mortality; for example from coronary heart disease and stroke.

How does loneliness affect you?

Loneliness affects your way of thinking, the way you perceive the world. Becoming lonely can socially isolate you, and cause you to become emotionally isolated. Loneliness can impact one area of your life – such as being bullied – and spill over to other areas – such as not being able to easily be amongst new people.

How does being lonely affect the elderly?

Being lonely affects seniors significantly. Each passing year more quality relationships are lost as a result of people moving away, or dying. Their own functional decline makes it harder to connect outside their home, and the stigma of loneliness means many elderly feel their pain and sadness is something to endure.

How does loneliness lead to depression?

Loneliness can lead to depression when it is left unchecked, and a person withdraws more and more inward. An anxious person becoming chronically lonely is at risk of developing depression. Essentially loneliness predicts subsequent increases in depression, although depression does not predict escalation of loneliness.

How do we define a meaningful relationship?

Relationships take time and effort, so to become meaningful they need to be sustainable with both of you having a mutual desire to be friends. Respect, reciprocity, emotional intimacy, trust, compatibility in beliefs, attitudes, and interests, and some shared activities. An acceptance some disagreement and hurt are inevitable – so forgiveness.

How do I prevent loneliness?

You can prevent loneliness by

  • understanding the complexity of loneliness, so you can minimize you and others becoming lonely.
  • building meaningful social connections with others, ensuring you have enough quality (reciprocal) relationships.
  • getting help from a professional if you need assistance to form enduring quality relationships.

Do you have any other questions?

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