Depression and loneliness can exist together, but they are not exactly the same thing.
Loneliness is something experienced by all people at some point but it is not always accompanied by depression.
Usually loneliness is thought of as occurring when people are alone, but this is not always true either.
Some people experience loneliness in combination homesickness , when they are away from familiar people and surroundings. They can feel this even when there are people around.
Other people feel like they do not fit in and this leads to lonliness with people around. Some people feel more lonely around groups of people than they do when they are by themselves.
There are other circumstances where people experience lonliness with other people around. Some of these circumstances tend to cause a co-existing condition of depression and lonliness.
People with invisible illnesses like chronic pain, chronic illness, and mental illness often feel both lonliness and depression. There is a feeling of disconnection from others when someone cannot find anyone that can relate to what they are going through.
Toxic loneliness is something that happens to people that cannot tolerate being alone or cannot tolerate bring without an intimate partner.
Ross Rosenberg coined the term “pathological loneliness” when he was doing research with his clients that suffered from co-dependence.
He discovered that one of the reasons so many people go back into abusive relationships is the pathological loneliness.
Both the terms toxic loneliness and pathological loneliness refer to this intolerable pain associated with being alone.
Usually the abusive partner lures the victim back in with false promises that things will be different. The victim who is suffering from such severe emotional / mental distress from being alone takes their chances and goes back.
In the mind of the victim, the pathological loneliness and the depression that goes along with it, is more painful than the abuse was.
People with codependent personalities usually developed pathological lonliness as children from neglect and abuse.
Depression can also develop out of childhood abuse. This can be any type of abuse, including emotional and psychological abuse. People that were abused as children often have complex post traumatic stress disorder as adults.
C-PTSD can involve depression, anxiety and sometimes pathological loneliness. There are often internal mental tapes that play inside their head that repeat negative things.
Being alone can make the internal dialogue louder. Thoughts of worthlessness, shame and failure play over and over. These tapes are implanted in the subconscious during childhood by others.
Many people with C-PTSD do not realize that they have actual trauma that is the same as PTSD which was caused at multiple ages and multiple circumstances.
Many people who have mental illness like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder had chaotic, traumatic, abusive or emotionally devaluing childhoods.
People with depression have organic differences in their brains which can be seen with brain scans like an MRI. Certain parts of the brain that are supposed to light up to show activity, do not light up.
Depression can also co-exist with anxiety disorders. The sensations of imminent threat that occur with PTSD and CPTSD, can be felt alongside of depression and loneliness.
Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate one feeling from another. It can be helpful to people to be able to identify what sensations they are feeling.
Sometimes looking at the feelings and figuring out what is based on current circumstances and what is from early programming can help.
People with disorders of depression often feel lonely because they are unable to find people to understand their illness. Being disbelieved and invalidated can open up old wounds from childhood.
Some people are unaware that they had any abuse or emotional trauma because it happened at a very young age. The brain stores memories differently before the age of five.
Conditions like depression and toxic loneliness are no less painful than other illnesses. Unfortunately many people are not empathetic about invisible illnesses.
Your reality and your experience with suffering is your own, and it is valid. Healing can begin with validating yourself and being open to the root causes of your feelings.