Being Alone vs. Being Lonely

There are people who feel lonely but are alone and there are those who choose to be alone but are not necessarily alone, i.e. surrounded by people. So what make us feel lonely? Is it just isolation from social life or one can be lonely in the midst of all social activities? Today Psychologist Shivani Sadhoo answers some of the interesting facts and mind factors behind being alone and being lonely.

First understand, loneliness is a universal human emotion, yet it is both a complex and unique to each individual. It is commonly described as a state of solitude or being alone but in reality, loneliness is a state of mind. This state of mind causes people to feel empty, alone and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people. Loneliness as per psychological definition is not necessarily about staying & living physically alone, instead, it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters the most.

For example, a newly joined office employee, who has difficulty in making friends and making himself/herself noticed, might feel lonely despite being surrounded by hundreds of office mates. Similarly, if a girl or a boy finds it difficult to express his/her pain, fears, feelings through verbal expressions, i.e. by talking, he/she might feel alone among a group of friends who would be all talking about themselves and would consider this person to have no trouble in life.

Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health. Some of the health risks associated with loneliness includes:
* Cardiovascular diseases and strokes
* Depression and suicide, 
* Alcoholism and smoking, 
* Progression of Alzheimer's disease

Generally, it’s very difficult to recognize if someone feels lonely and sometimes even the sufferer doesn’t recognize for the whole life that he/she was lonely deep inside.

One can cure loneliness:-
* By first identifying themselves that they suffer from loneliness.
* By realizing themselves that loneliness is a hazardous condition and they should fix it.
* If the person suffers with difficulties to express themselves to others, lacks effective communication skills, feels shy and stressed in social gathering then its advisable to take a help from experts like a mental health professional or a psychologist.