Single, Isolated, or Depressed?

by Prudence Vindin

One does feel the pressure to be a warrior of kinds as a single person, simply to survive. Isolation is one of the leading factors in depression and ‘single’ is a synonym for ‘isolation.’ Being in a relationship, one is offered: stability, support and a sense of belonging. Sans relationship, where does one find these things?

As a single person, one can often find it a battle to feel stability, support, or a sense of self. According to depression statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9% of adult Americans have feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and/or guilt that generate a diagnosis of depression – all feelings that are generated from isolation. In fact, major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the CDC.  It makes sense; however, the link between being single and being depressed is not widely accepted and understood.

The average age for a person to be diagnosed with depression is 32. Right about the time all of your friends are linking their credit cards, getting married, having babies and buying homes, and you are the only single person left in the Northern Hemisphere, right?!  Before the societal pressure of marriage comes to a peak around age 32 there is the more volatile age to be single- that of the early twenties, just when your ‘real-self’ is being formed. And worryingly those diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 24, when there’s a 10.9 percent rate of depression, are at the greatest risk for self-harm.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the largest scientific organization dedicated to mental health issues, women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression during the course of their lifetimes. As a single woman, it feels like there is more of a pressure to ‘pair up’ before you hit your late 30′s. This stems from biological timing and the societally accepted notion that men can be a father into their late 40′s early 50′s, in some cases. And ladies, NIMH research has also shown that this is in part due to hormones, you’re not just being dramatic.

But hold on. Despite women suffering from depression more frequently than men, married men are less likely to be depressed than unmarried men, whereas married women are more likely to be depressed than unmarried women. If that was confusing, this is how depression works, according to a study by Chris Iliades, MD:

Married men are less depressed than single dudes.

Married women are MORE depressed than single ladies.

So what are single ladies like me so worried about anyway? Maybe we should enjoy the moment.

While the link between being single and having depression is valid, it’s not the whole story. Certain age periods intensify the pressure and societal expectations can implement stressors. Ways to combat these stressors and triggers include garnering a sense of community and a strong sense of self. The right therapist can help you find your own unique sense of self, but the real discovery always comes from within.

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