Feeling isolated from other people can be a particularly difficult symptom to deal with. It's one of the Catch-22s of coping with and recovering from low mood. The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. But always remember, there's a huge difference between difficult and something impossible.

We all know that we should try and interact with other people as fully as possible. It's well known that cutting yourself off from the outside world can only make your situation worse. Maintaining your close relationships and being socially active are vital.

Well meaning friends say things like, get out more, meet more friends, join a club. Very difficult, but possible, and worth the investment of effort (and pain). On your own it can be difficult to maintain a positive perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression or anxiety, but the very nature of your low mood makes it difficult to reach out for help.

If the thought of talking with people feels overwhelming, try phoning or emailing instead. Both have particular advantages.

Surveys have shown that around 50% of the population find it easier to have 'difficult' conversations on the phone rather than face to face. One reason is that you can't see the other person, and therefore don't react to the visual triggers that might inhibit your willingness to talk - the other person's facial expressions and body language for instance. Likewise, the other person can't see see you and pick up on visual clues about your state of mind.

Emails have turned out to be a very effective way of having extended 'helping' conversations. In the US in particular, counselling via email is now well established and works well for many people, partly because of its semi-anonymous nature.

So why not get in touch with one or two old friends and start an email dialogue? Begin small with some pleasantries and see if it blossoms into a more substantial conversation.

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