Depression and Single Christian Women
“How come I can’t get him to notice me?” “How long do I have to keep pretending that this smile is real?” “Is something wrong with me?” “Why doesn’t anyone want me?” “Does anyone even care about me?” “What’s the point of going on?” “I feel so… alone.”
Does this sound familiar? Have you experienced these types of thoughts? Single Christian women often experience depression due to loneliness or from lacking intimate relationships.
Why do single Christian women experience depression from loneliness?
In 2011, the United States Census Bureau reported 46% of the United States households are single, U.S. residents 18 and older who have never been married, divorced, or widowed. There can be pressure from married people, the church, and friends placed on single women to get married. The burden can cause women to think something is wrong with them if they are single or even divorced. For others there is simply a deep longing to be married.
“Is something wrong with me?” “Why doesn’t anyone want me?”
These common negative self-statements can generate damaging self-talk and spiral into depressive symptoms. Pressure from others can increase thoughts of shame, judgment, and rejection. The absence of a boyfriend or husband can feel like a dead end road defining a woman’s view of herself and her future. You may be establishing your identity and self-worth via a relationship with a man. Placing an impossible expectation on the relationship is a recipe for disappointment. Needing a relationship to determine purpose in life and happiness only makes you powerless. In truth, one should not get married or begin a relationship to fix loneliness.
How do you define yourself?
Your identity is comprised of who you are as an individual, what you value, your interests and behaviors, who you have been, and who are you going to be. Individuals with an insecure identity experience uncertainty; they don’t know who they are or their purpose in life. Women with insecure identities may attempt to establish a sense of identity through a relationship. A relationship cannot define your identity or who you are going to be. If it does define your identity, then when it ends you will be left with nothing.
What distinguishes an unhealthy single woman, from the “healthy/secure” woman in a relationship, is often the relationship itself. The single woman must deal with not being chosen and the hypocrisy of those women who encourage her or try to help her get over it, as they do so from the security of a relationship (ie: they have the same insecurity and just don’t have to deal with it due to having a relationship).
God created each one of us with purpose and significance. God declares our worth with his actions: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16. Max Ludaco described it as if God were stating, “You are special because I made you, and I don’t make mistakes.” God wants to acknowledge who you are and the parts about you the world doesn’t understand or might not appreciate. It is easy to get distracted from who we really are and what God desires for us to do in and through Him.
God loves you. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He believes in you and values your future. He wants you to have confidence in your identity and move forward with purpose in your life. Ask God in your prayers to reveal his truth and any pain that you are withholding that you need His healing for.
What if you could focus on your identity in Christ and let him fulfill your loneliness?
Marriage is not a higher calling and there are advantages to both the single and married life. For some, marriage can be lonelier than the single life. Celebrate singleness instead of letting the loneliness rule your life. We aren’t celebrating singleness as such, but we are celebrating our identity in Christ. It is the secure foundation on which the rest of life can be built. It changes what we do because it changes who we are.
Here are some suggestions to celebrate and embrace singleness:
- Create a gratitude journal
- Develop a healthy lifestyle: Try to stay active such as joining your local gym or start walking daily and eliminate unhealthy eating habits by replacing with healthy balanced meals
- Develop a bucket list: Create a list of life goals you hope to accomplish in your lifetime
- Define or develop your passion: Compensate your weaknesses through your developing strengths and desires
- Get involved with a ministry: Check with your community or church for volunteer and charity opportunities
- Evaluate your finances and spending patterns: Get smart with your money
- Strive to serve God: Meditate on his word and allow a quiet time to focus on him
- Gather others around you: Step out of your comfort zone and invite someone to dinner or over a Bible study
You are not a failure. Rejoice in the moment and celebrate your freedom to serve God. God does call some to remain single longer than a season, a life time. Try viewing singleness as an opportunity. You don’t have obligations to anyone but yourself. You can focus on yourself and your relationship with God.
“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”
1 Corinthians 7:17 (ESV)
How does depression brought on by loneliness look? Here are some common issues I see when working with women:
- Severe emotional distress: “I’m under so much pressure; I have this anxious feeling that makes my heart rate rise, muscles tense, stomach turn, and my breathing is more rapid”
- Sleep disturbance: “I can’t sleep in the night” “I keep waking up during the night”
- Lack of concentration: “I have a hard time focusing at work and listening to others talk to me”
- Physical ailments: “Where does this chronic migraine keep coming from? “My stomach feels like it is in a constant knot”
- Fatigue: “I just can’t seem to keep my eyes open during the day” “All I want to do is sleep”
- Loss or increase in appetite: “I can’t get myself to eat” “I keep eating; it wasn’t like this before”
- Suicidal ideation : “I’ve been having thoughts or ideas about ending my life”
Additional symptoms of depression due to loneliness:
- Grieving the loss of expectations or fantasies: Having the tendency to attempt to get reality to match a fantasy or unrealistic expectation and then experiencing despair when unable to achieve them. This could be dreaming about the perfect house, maybe a beach house on the shores of the ocean. Or it could be dreaming of having a son that becomes a pro football player or a daughter who becomes homecoming queen
- Preoccupied with Materialism: Attempt to fill the voids with material goods
- Security in Familiarity: One might stay at home where it is a safe place and avoid new relationships and environments
- Unhealthy Attachments and Relational Dependency: Developing unhealthy boundaries and unsafe relationships in attempt to “fix” the loneliness
- Constant Busyness: Remaining busy to avoid depressive thoughts and feelings of loneliness
- Emotionally Reserved: Experiencing a fear and avoidance to be emotionally honest
If any of these sound familiar, you’re not alone. Many women struggling with depression discover their way to feeling secure, confident, and full of life during our sessions together. You don’t have to be alone in this. Connecting with an experienced counselor can give you the direction and support you need to move beyond the depression to joyful living.
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