QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Depression and Anxiety

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I graduated from high school 2 years ago, and ever since I have felt all alone. I seldomly see my friends, and I work in a office where I only see 4 or 5 people a day. I to keep myself busy, to avoid loneliness but sometimes it doesn't work. How can I get rid of this feeling and enjoy my life?

Answer

You don't say that you have a problem making friends, just that your friends are not available and you don't meet too many people through work. But, two years is a long time to feel so burdened and lonely and this can indicate depression. You might want to see a psychologist or social worker for a thorough evaluation. The ideas I list below will seem too hard to sustain if you are really depressed. However, they are particularly effective in addition to professional help. And people do quite well when they get to the right group.

It does seem harder once outside of school to create the same level of social contact that we once had. What was the level and intensity of your high school socializing? That might give you a clue if you need to redesign your career and life to bring you a quantity of people contact, quality (one good friend) or both on an every day basis or once a week. Here are a few suggestions, but do pick one or two things, the first one that feels exciting. Don't let indecision derail you! You can always choose again:

1) I returned to school and redirected my career when I had a crisis and felt alienated. I have a tendency to isolate so I must work at it. Here are some other things people in self-help groups I know add to their lives: Join a class to pursue new interests. These are good ways to remedy loneliness. Look in the community newspapers, phone book, or ask friends how to locate special interest clubs (photography, film, scuba diving??), organizations (Singles groups, Greenpeace), or any religious or secular study group (bible study). In any case, join a fitness center, great meeting places. Exercise produces endorphins, hormones that make you feel good. And read about and pay attention to your nutrition needs. Toastmasters is a fabulous self-help organization that helps people learn to speak in public-what a brave way to learn that skill and improve your confidence!

2) If you need help to put yourself out there to meet new friends, then, why not join a self-help group? They are "communities of needs" and each person lets you know how that need affects him or her. It's easy to practice making friends when you all share some of your similar experiences. Remember, the good group provides solutions, not merely gripe sessions! And you can leave the group when you are ready to try it on your own. For instance helps people cope with depression and other emotional distress. Their national office phone number is 312/337-5661 (802 N Dearborn St, Chicago IL 60610). Online, you could join the DEPRESS mailing list which consists of very wise and compassionate people: to subscribe send the message"subscribe depress" to . Search newsgroups as well. You already know about this ezine, so keep visiting various departments.

3) The premise in volunteerism and self-help groups is that in giving, you receive. For instance, you can volunteer at a childrens' hospital, become a math or English tutor to students, or help in a senior program. Just call one you like or a local volunteer center.

Thats about it. In summary: Your plan include a professional evaluation, an exercise/nutrition/wellness program, and opportunities to learn something new and give something back. If you do all that you will again have the structure

Lots of good luck! We would really like to hear how you're doing.

02/21/98

Dr. Kenneth Dutro is a licensed psychologist in California. He is a member of the faculty at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California. He has been faculty member of a medical school, and worked for years as a psychologist in university-affiliated teaching hospitals.

 

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