Are Singles More Susceptible To Depression?


Depression can strike anyone, but singles may be uniquely susceptible

We all know the various downsides to being single. We get lonely. We get bored. Sometimes we can feel like we’re not worth much. But there’s one negative aspect to single life than can turn severe, even deadly: depression.

I’m not talking about feeling bummed out because you can’t find a date or the occasional passing blues. I’m talking about serious clinical depression.

Depression is no respecter of persons. It can strike anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, religion, or social status. But in some ways, singles may be uniquely susceptible to it. Sometimes, certain life conditions — loneliness, stress, feeling undesirable — can trigger a longer lasting clinical depression.

Several years ago, I went through a long season of depression. I’d be driving along and, for no apparent reason, I’d start crying. The sadness was overwhelming, like a sinister, alien grief that had invaded my chest and brain. Activities that normally gave me pleasure, like reading books or seeing movies, no longer affected me. The whole world felt heavy. I couldn’t imagine a future with any hope.

[3 Ways To Cope With Depression After Divorce]

I went to therapy to figure out why I was feeling so sad. In therapy, I identified certain life events and circumstances that could explain why I felt depressed. And it was helpful to talk with a trained counselor about those things. But no matter how much I talked, the depression didn’t lift.

It continued relentlessly.

During this dark season, I told my mother and father about my struggle. To my surprise, they both revealed that they had suffered clinical depression at some point in their lives. Maybe I was genetically predisposed to melancholy? Who knows? So much about depression is still a mystery.

But one thing is for sure: Just as our bodies get sick, our minds can get sick too. The insidious thing about depression, though, is that you don’t look sick to others. Physically, you appear normal, when in reality you may be in so much suffering that you need bed rest. Job describes this internal agony:

 

I have been allotted months of futility, 

   and nights of misery have been assigned to me. 

When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ 

   The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. 

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, 

   and they come to an end without hope. 

Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; 

   my eyes will never see happiness again.

 

This is a remarkably accurate description of clinical depression. Was Job depressed? Of course, and for good reason. He had lost everything. But unlike Job, today we have access to medication that can help alleviate our depression.

At first, I resisted medication, thinking I would eventually get better with just therapy and time. But I didn’t get better. So I finally caved in and got a prescription from a psychiatrist.

At first, nothing changed. So I tried a new combination of meds. Then one morning I woke up, sat on the edge of my bed and felt…normal. Not super-happy. Just not super-sad. The depression was gone.

Today I still feel fine. And I still take medication.

Some say that Christians shouldn’t feel depressed, as if we’re somehow immune from the normal ravages that come with being human. But Christians get sick just like anyone else. And sick people take medicine. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic not to take insulin. In the same way, we shouldn’t tell depressed Christians not to take medicine if they need it.

In addition to medication, there are other good suggestions to help stave off depression:

One, as Catholics, we can go to Mass and fill ourselves with the goodness of the Scriptures, the Eucharist, and fellowship.

 

Two, surround yourself with community. Don’t just sit around being lonely. Develop friendships, go out and do things, spend time with people.

 

Three, get exercise. Running, walking, playing a sport, any kind will do.

 

Finally, try to keep things in perspective. The fact that you’re single or going through a crisis probably doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Whatever your circumstances, most things are not “all good” or “all bad.” Usually, life falls somewhere in between.

 

But if these things don’t help and you’ve been feeling unreasonably sad for more than two weeks straight, you may be looking at a more serious problem, and you should talk to a doctor about what to do. There is always hope that you can feel better. I’m proof of that.






12 Comments

  1. Joan-629290 September 17, 2012 Reply

    Chris,
    Thank you for a great article sharing your story, and giving hope to others who suffer with this illness. It is a medical condition needing multi faceted treatment as you point out. We must remove the stigma, and help others reach out to get the help they need.

  2. Lucy-783281 September 18, 2012 Reply

    excellent!

  3. John-870306 September 18, 2012 Reply

    I’d also recommend weekly confession. A lot of times depression is rooted in a guilty conscience, and confession is tailor-made for that.

  4. Vinie-897384 September 19, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for your sharing.

  5. Rachel-770174 September 19, 2012 Reply

    It’s so very true though. Being single can make you feel depressed. God made us for companionship. It’s only natural for a man and woman to seek companionship in one another. The degree of loneliness though can be magnified based off of your love language though. I don’t know if you are familiar with them, but there are 5 love languages.
    1. Words of affirmation
    2. Quality time
    3. Receiving gifts
    4. Acts of Service
    5. Physical touch
    I would highly encourage everyone to find out what your love languages are, and which ones are stronger than others.
    I know for example that for me, I feel most loved through;
    1. Physical touch
    2. Quality time
    I feel loved through words of affirmation and acts of service as well, but not as strong.
    Meanwhile, while we may feel loved by only maybe one or two of these languages, it’s important to remember that not everyone feels loved the same way, and we need to be responsive to how other people show their love to us. That in itself should make us feel loved.
    Being single, I have many days where I feel lonely because I feel like I don’t have someone, and it hurts, it actually hurts physically, and emotionally. But that’s when I take a few moments to pray to the Blessed Mother for comfort, and spend time with my family and friends, even though the companionship and physical touch I want isn’t the same as that from a man. That loneliness we feel though is God emptying us of everything else so that he can overflow it with his companionship. Until we have a good relationship with God, we can’t have a good relationship with someone else because God is the facilitator of a good holy marriage. Without him, our relationships with everyone else will not be everlasting.
    I will stop here, I don’t want to turn this into a book, but I am speaking from experience, much prayer and reflection…….. However I am just another soul trying my best to hear and see God’s will.

    • Karen-246239 July 25, 2013 Reply

      Words of affirmation and quality time. That’s what I need. I’ve joined a hiking group of people my age and although we don’t have deep conversations with each other, the chit chat as we walk in the woods and just being around other people and in with nature restores the beauty of being alive. I notice that I laugh and smile a lot, as shown in pictures taken during the hike when I’m not looking! If I want to smile, I have to hike with these people. That thought helps get me off the couch! Thanks so much for your list of love language.

  6. Tom-432657 September 19, 2012 Reply

    Good article! Just because you don’t have that special someone right away doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. We all need to reach out to people and know none of us are alone. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to be alone. When we develop friendships, it does make life more easier. That’s why God created more than one person on this earth so we could help one another.

  7. Rachel-770174 September 19, 2012 Reply

    I recently became single…….. But not on my terms. The pain of loosing what I had, and the reason for it honestly knocked the breath out of me and feels like a double edged sword. It still does. the loneliness I feel is incredible. I don’t want to wallow in self pity. It does no good, and makes the pain worse. It took me 6 years to let someone back into my life like I let Zach, and it was because of the previous hurt I experienced and my ability to trust. This is definitely worse though. Zach was my best friend first, then we grew into a relationship quite by accident. He left me for a girl that is not religious, and I honestly believe is no good for him. Zach was and still is in my prayers for conversion. He was attending Mass with me every Sunday and Holy days of obligation, and was about to start RCIA before this girl injected herself into our lives. Zach had some problems, but was working through them……. Needless to say, he’s falling backwards again and it absolutely kills me to have to stand by and watch. All I can do is pray and offer up everything for his conversion. I fell in love with him because I saw a soul in distress and tried to help. I didn’t expect anything out of it for myself. I feel like I lost two things at once. He tells me that he still loves me to death and that I mean the world to him, that he still wants to be best friends and needs me in his life…….. I will be there for him no matter what, but I can’t help but hope he comes back. He has a lot of maturing to do still though, which is probably why we aren’t working right now, or so he tells me. We may never work out, and that is something I am going to have to come to terms with. I’m much more mature than most girls my age and it makes it extremely difficult to find a mature man in my age range. Zach and I both shared the same love languages, so it made it very easy to express our feelings for one another, but at the same time it can become a danger.
    I know I am not alone though, by any means, this is simply an adjustment and it will all return to calm waters with time and patience.

  8. Rachel-770174 September 19, 2012 Reply

    I guess really I should thank God for saving me from a relationship that isn’t good for me right now.

  9. William-527364 September 20, 2012 Reply

    Very nice article. Depression can become a biological illness and a well matched therapist and medication assistance (to help releive the physiological symptoms) until one works through the issues at the rout of the feelings. You described well the nightly ruminations, and sleep problems that accompany a clinical depression. Just the right amount of social support, making quality time for yourself, giving yopurself a reward, excercise on a regular basis, and as you nicely say keeping things in perspective are nice ways to stay healthy. Having a partner one lives longer but until that happens avoid the dark side. This makes us available to others and we are in a position to communicate a take advantage of the inventations of others instead of feeling glum and missing a good opportunity to connect with somebody. Even if you miss the opportunity, you learn something to use next time and there will always be a next time.

    Bill

  10. Paul-99681 September 20, 2012 Reply

    I have had a personal life with a mind of it;s own and at times I really feel that cupid has made me the the blunt of his jokes or he’s just out to get me! however I never feel depressed and just keep plugging away as it only makes things worse if you give up and this I never have !

    I would say if you want to find love you can’t get depressed because you owe that to the people who love you also it.s not attractive and you can’t afford that so don’t forget to smile! and how do you know when you find the right person ??? Just follow your heart …….well that comes second because to really get to know someone you can’t do this till you get to know yourself first !!! then worry about that follow your heart thing!

    Also when you chat or read how someone did filling out your interview please try to remember their not taking a test or handing in a term paper it’s just a guide to help to get to know them better not some sort of a magic shortcut meant to save time like a pre cooked meal you just pop in the micro wave !

    Also just have faith and my God Bless us all !

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