Coping with Depression From Being Single

Depression affects more than 6 percent of the adult population in the United States. The National Alliance on Mental Illness warns that being single or widowed elevates the risk for this disorder. Fortunately the National Institute of Health says depression is very treatable, with up to 80 percent of sufferers finding some relief within four to six weeks of getting medication or counseling. This means depressed singles can break out of the cycle.

A depressed single woman laying on her bed. (Image: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Definition

Everyone, single and married, has an occasional bout with the blues, but the National Institute of Mental Health warns sad feelings can turn into a mental disorder. Depression is characterized by a negative mental state that persists for more than a few days. It eventually gets severe enough to impair normal functioning and activities.

Considerations

Anyone can suffer from depression. Its causes include brain chemical or hormone imbalances, genetics and environmental issues. However, singles are at a higher risk for this emotional issue.The World Health Organization says single and divorced people have an overall two to four times greater rate of depression, with men facing a higher risk than women.

Effects

NIMH explains depression has physical and mental symptoms. Physically, depression can trigger overeating or loss of appetite, headaches and muscle tension. It can cause insomnia or oversleeping and drain energy. Mentally it can make a person feel sad, worthless, irritable and frustrated. It can interfere with concentration and memory and strip the appeal from once-pleasurable activities. These effects are particularly troublesome for singles because they can prevent formation of intimate relationships. A person who doesn't feel well and has little interest in outside activities won't have many opportunities to meet others. He may inadvertently push them away with his negative mental state.

Treatment

Depression is very treatable with psychotherapy, medication or a combined approach. There are several different types of anti-depressant drugs. Patients who are unresponsive to one type often find relief with another or with a combination of two or more drugs. Psychotherapy is done by a counselor, and cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common depression-fighting technique. It focuses on isolating negative thoughts and replacing them with healthy ones and changing ineffective behaviors into positive actions. This can be particularly useful for singles because it helps them identify unhealthy thoughts and actions tied into their relationship status.

Prevention

Singles can ward off depression by concentrating on other life areas and developing multiple sources of fulfillment. This might include a strong support system of family and friends, hobbies, recreation and charitable activities. An active life keeps depression at bay and provides more opportunities to meet someone for a relationship. Careful budgeting makes it easier to live on a single income. This prevents financially-related depression.

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