There are many different situations in life that may leave one feeling lonely. Loneliness can be described as feeling cut off from others not by choice, being without company, and being unhappy alone. People may feel lonely because they don’t have a larger social network of friends, family and/or community. Loneliness can set in after a loved one dies, after children leave the home, following a divorce, or when there is a change in employment status or conditions. It’s possible to be lonely temporarily, or it could last long term. It’s important to distinguish between feeling lonely and being depressed. We all feel lonely from time to time, but we don’t all necessarily experience depression.

Depression is a clinical diagnosis that should be made by a mental health professional. An extremely simplified look at the diagnosis of Depression includes experiencing at least a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure for at least a two-week period of time. There are many other criteria that need to be met, but it’s important to seek professional help should you think you feel depressed.

It is possible to feel lonely, but not depressed. Loneliness means you are interested in being socially connected, but lack emotional tools to reach out. Depression usually leaves a person void of the desire to seek out or maintain relationships. Social connectedness can be described as an individual having established relationships with other people, including friends, family and on a community level, and quality individual health, employment and living conditions. Being socially connected is an important concept as it is central to a person’s overall sense of well-being. National studies have concluded that having a strong social connectedness (e.g. to a neighborhood or larger community) and healthy relationships, leads to a higher quality of life and a greater ability to contribute to the health of the community. Being socially isolated can lead to mental and physical health problems.

People find a greater social connectedness through community centers, churches, schools, employment and neighborhoods. Community centers are often a hub for educational opportunities, health care, child care and socializing. Many people turn to pets when they feel lonely or isolated. If this is an option you choose to pursue, be sure that taking care of a pet fits into your lifestyle. Pets do provide a sense of responsibility and purposefulness. Pets, especially dogs, encourage you to develop an exercise routine, which then leads to a greater chance of being social. Walking a dog invites other people to stop and pet your dog and then have a conversation with you. There is also a tremendous sense of comfort that comes with a pet relationship. Petting an animal has been proven to reduce stress levels in people, and to lower blood pressure and Cholesterol levels. A pet leaves many people feeling less lonely.

Author's Bio: 

Cecelia Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has a special interest in stress management strategies. Please visit her website: to find out more about Pet Strollers and Pet Wheeled Carriers