To many people, more so to those who experience depression firsthand, discussing the social effects of depression oftentimes amounts to “Nobody understands me!” and “I’m all alone!”
Suffice to say, this isn’t what depression is about.
Sure, that sense of loneliness is a real killer, but that isn’t really the issue when it comes to depression and social interactions.
Sure, I could list some social symptoms of depression and be done with it, but let’s look at this problem from another angle, yeah?
Do social problems cause depression, or does depression cause social problems?
It’s not about just loneliness mind you, it’s about social anxiety in all shapes and sizes as well as social withdrawal.
So what are we actually looking at here?
Social Issues can cause depression, just ask Ben
Back when I was a kid I couldn’t make any friends.
Regardless of how hard I tried, I was always keeping people at a distance without meaning to.
I was being friendly and considerate, yet always seemed to lack that “something” that made strangers your friends.
Even when we had the same interests, they still spent time with other people, even if they had nothing in common.
This situation bugged me a lot more than it should have had.
Truth be told, I am one of the most introverted people that I know – and this has nothing to do with any mental illnesses that I might have had.
The truth is that I like being alone, and can entertain myself without any company for extended periods of time.
Then in 7th grade, I met a kid called Ben.
Ben was my antithesis, my opposite, in more than one way, and I hated him for it.
I had very few friends, with which I interacted every once in a while. I was perfectly fine with that.
Ben, on the other hand, was determined to make everyone his friend.
Now, this may sound like an okay thing to you, but here’s the kicker.
He didn’t have a sense of individuality and drew every bit of validation for his thoughts and actions from the masses of “friends” that he has made.
I hated him because I couldn’t fathom how such a person could even function.
He hated me because I was a pretty annoying kid that nobody really liked, and quite frankly he was (and probably still is) a pretty sensitive guy who didn’t take kindly to any of my annoyances.
I suppose that Ben looked down on me, and although I didn’t show it, I looked down on him too.
Social realities are harsh
The thing I remember most about Ben is how he would always point out how much of a friendless loser (his words, not mine) I was.
There was a time when most of our little group did nothing but play video games, and I got into an argument with Ben about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I like video games, and so did he, but he didn’t like the fact that I mentioned how much we all played them.
To prove him wrong, whenever I got into a conversation I asked “what game are we talking about?” and got a name in about 90% of the time.
Ben, however, lashed out at me.
He didn’t want to think about himself, or his friends, as people who play too many video games.
After all, video games are for losers and loners to waste their time on. Real bros get wasted at a local bar or smoke illegal drugs in the ally.
That wasn’t really enough to bring my mood down, but his insults were really getting on my nerves.
Then I left that school, and none of my old “friends” really kept in touch.
I got a bit offended, not because I was bothered by that fact, I knew they weren’t really my friends, but because I let Ben talk me into thinking that this wasn’t how this was supposed to be.
It was a contributing factor to my depression in later life, and it took me a while to understand how empty his words truly are.
But by then it was too late.
Social withdrawal and anxiety – Cause or effect?
My depressing adolescent story aside, what am I really trying to say here?
Depression can have a variety of social effects, including withdrawing from other people and losing all faith in them, but this isn’t really the problem.
In some cases, any and all social symptoms of depression have nothing to do with the cause of depression (or lack thereof), yet this isn’t always the case.
The first, most important step, of figuring out how to solve the problem is to find out what caused it in the first place.
So, are these social problems a cause or an effect of depression?
Let’s see now:
- Depression as a symptom – Much like in my story with Ben, the constant rejection got into my head and contributed to my depression
- Depression as a cause – Depression has a variety of symptoms that are related to you social life, directly or indirectly.
For example, If you are depressed you might feel fatigued and draw away from people.
Normally I would tell you not to self-diagnose yourself (seriously, don’t), but here’s a trick question.
Which one, in your (possibly hypothetical) situation came first – your depression or your social problems?
It’s a cycle that doesn’t end
Data shows that isolation and depression are closely related.
It’s a two-way kind of deal and for the most part, it needs to be handled as such.
What do I mean?
Well, the first step of treating any and all problems, is to find out whatever it is that’s causing them (unless there is no such specific cause)
luckily for us, there is an identifiable cause to this problem and the solutions are just as obvious.
When it comes to social issues being a cause
If your depression is caused by any social rejection or isolation then the next step should be rebuilding trust.
What do I mean? Well, let’s talk about Ben one more time.
In my case, after I pretty much lost all of my friends I couldn’t really comprehend what true friendship meant.
Clearly, it was different for ben than it was for me at the time.
People who experienced rejection, or are simply very shy, sometimes need to build up trust in other people.
They can’t just socialize just like that, they are afraid to be hurt again.
The correlation between social anxiety and depression is quite high.
I think that we all know how that feels.
I mean, rejection sucks, doesn’t it? And sure, you can (and possibly should) go to a therapist, but I have a suggestion that might interest you down below.
What about social problems as a symptom?
Regarding your mental health, this problem is just that much more complicated.
You see, there can be a variety of causes for depression, some of which may absolutely nothing to do with mental health, and you should see a professional to get treated, yet the one cause that stands out the most is having low self-esteem and confidence.
Think about it, since when to confident people with high self-esteem suffer from social isolation and anxiety? Regardless of depression, this is a pretty rare thing.
If you have depression, and these symptoms of social anxiety and isolation are a recurring thing, I would recommend figuring out your depression first and only then tackling these problems.
So what’s next?
Truth be told, this situation isn’t ideal.
It takes real skill to figure out whether or not a certain disorder or problem is a symptom of another problem or the other way around.
Now, if you were paying attention, you would probably like to know one solution that I came up with.
Like I’ve said before, if depression is merely the symptom of an entirely different problem, then any trust issues should be figured out as soon as possible.
One recommendation that might interest you is Sean Cooper’s “Shyness and social anxiety system“.
It’s one of the few programs I would trust online regarding mental health.
If you think that the problem that you are having might be an issue of trust or security, you might want to give this one a go.
If it doesn’t work out for you, there’s always a refund policy – you may re-invest that money in a therapist instead.
When it comes to depression, I am yet to find a reliable program online meant to help you out with it, so the best I can do to help you is to recommend some of my other stuff.
Anywho, here’s a fun question – Which came first, the social symptoms or the depression?
Make sure to write down your answers in the comment section below – I’ll be reading every single one of them!
If you got any questions you would like to ask me personally then please send me an email