Loneliness is something that impacts everyone at some point. It’s normal to be or feel alone sometimes, especially in modern society, when people are becoming more economically independent and therefore able to live alone. But it becomes a problem when this sense of independence transitions into loneliness and feelings of isolation from others. Loneliness can be defined as negative, persistent feelings of disconnectedness due to the lack or absence of social relations in one’s life (Tiwari 2013). Persistent loneliness is actively harmful to many people, but can it be treated? Often, one must look at the causes of loneliness in order to treat it properly. People undergo vastly different circumstances that contribute to feelings of isolation, thus one person’s solution for loneliness may not work for someone else.
It’s also incredibly important to acknowledge the way that mental illness coincides with loneliness for many people. For example, loneliness and isolation are commonly experienced by those with depression. However, people struggling with any mental illness tend to feel alone in their struggle. When your struggle is internal and nobody in your life has experienced what you’re going through, it can become very easy to feel extremely disconnected even from your closest friends and family members.
This becomes even more complicated when dealing with OCD. For many people, OCD can manifest itself via fears that you may be a danger or threat to your loved ones. These can be fears of committing violent or sexual acts. Therefore, someone with OCD may choose to isolate themselves from their loved ones in order to keep them safe. On the other hand, those with a fear of germs may choose to isolate themselves from others so as to avoid the spread of germs as much as possible (Singer). So not only are those with OCD dealing with intense and paralyzing anxiety, they are also dealing with the resulting isolation.
This is why widespread education about mental illness is so important. If people with undiagnosed OCD who may be feeling isolated and alone are educated about what they’re going through, they become one step closer to feeling less alone and feeling like they can overcome what they’re struggling with. Additionally, if their family members are properly educated on what OCD is and how its symptoms manifest themselves, they can build better support systems for their loved one and better understand why their loved one may be isolating.
Though loneliness is something that everyone goes through at one point in their life, it can be debilitating when coupled with a mental illness. While symptoms of OCD can aid in the development of feelings of isolation and loneliness, these feelings can be managed with proper treatment and proper support from one’s friends and family members.
Five myths about loneliness. (2018, February 13). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180213-five-myths-about-loneliness
OCD and Isolation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/ocd-and-isolation/
Tiwari, S. C. (2013, October). Loneliness: A disease? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890922/