Should We Be Dealing With Loneliness Using Pharmaceutical Treatments?

Louis Laves-Webb

October 16, 2019

Loneliness is as common as prevalent mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Why, then, don't we have any pharmaceutical treatments for it yet? Dealing with loneliness and a possible cure for loneliness is a complicated matter that stretches outside the boundaries of mental health. Before we get to that, however, let's talk about the possible pros and cons of a pharmaceutical cure for loneliness.

Pros and Cons of a Pharmaceutical Treatment for Loneliness


Pharmacuetical drugs may be useful as a treatment for loneliness for individuals with whom traditional therapy has reached a plateau.For example, it could work well for those with treatment-resistant depression or those on the autistic spectrum.


Loneliness is an emotional experience, which may have other etiologies other than individual psychology. For example, current societal norms, cultural conditioning, or capitalistic fervor may create a more pervasive loneliness, which targeted medication may do little to truly impact.

How is Treating Loneliness Different Than Other Mental Health Challenges?

The primary difference between targeting loneliness instead of something like depression or anxiety is that loneliness is not a diagnosable condition in the current DSM V. This gets into a tricky area of mental health and treatment. Are there any ethical considerations to consider if we began treating a condition that it not considered diagnosable? And, where is the line drawn?

Obviously, an inherent value in the medical field is to reduce suffering, but at what cost? If the medical field was to pick an emotion to target as a means of easing painful emotions, this clinician would advise targeting “shame”. It appears to this clinician that the emotion of shame is equally, if not more problematic in our worlds than the emotion of loneliness.

Perhaps, loneliness has become so common place and even so deeply valued in our current society that it’s simply becoming unbearable for many. Whether it’s school shootings, the opioid epidemic, or a tenfold increase in mental health services, it’s hard not to see pathological loneliness in every direction.

Perhaps the individual despair is simply a greater reflection of the larger disfunction as a whole.

Should We Be Trying to Cure Loneliness?

Many habits are beneficial when utilized in moderation. When utilized in excessive amounts, however, they can overwhelm our spirit and even destroy our lives.

Is loneliness not subject to a similar dynamics?

Our workplaces, homes, libraries, pubs, entertainment venues, and free time are lonely environments in this modern age. There is too little respite, too little community, and too little social support. Even for the best of us, this can create a cascade of loneliness that can be challenging to dig ourselves out from.

The Bottom Line

Loneliness is increasingly problematic in our modern world, but this does not mean it is inherently evil. While a pharmaceutical treatment for loneliness is, likewise, not inherently evil, to treat loneliness is to treat the symptom of a condition rooted in society's problems.Even so, loneliness felt too intensely or too frequently can take a toll on your mental health. If you're suffering from loneliness, don't hesitate to contact Louis Laves-Webb & Associates today.

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