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Am I Ghosting People Because I’m Depressed?

Let’s Talk About It

February 29, 2024

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Photography by Fiordaliso/Getty Images

Photography by Fiordaliso/Getty Images

by Clara Siegmund


Medically Reviewed by:

Bethany Juby, PsyD


by Clara Siegmund


Medically Reviewed by:

Bethany Juby, PsyD


Anyone can ghost for a number of reasons, but depression may make it more likely. Here’s how depression and ghosting are connected, plus some tips for communicating differently.

Ghosting can happen to anyone, and anyone can do it.

Commonly used as a relationship-ending strategy, ghosting can be employed on text and call apps, social media, and dating apps, and it can involve anything from simply not responding to someone to blocking them.

For people with depression and other mental health conditions, ghosting can also be the result of symptoms.

Here’s why someone might ghost, how ghosting is connected to depression, some tips for communicating, and a few ways to cope with being ghosted.

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What is ghosting?

Generally, ghosting is the sudden, one-sided ending of a relationship by cutting off all communication with no warning or explanation.

The ghoster stops sending or responding to messages and calls, no longer initiating or returning contact, while the ghostee is left wondering what’s happening and why.

Ghosting can happen in any kind of relationship, including friendships, romantic partnerships, and family relationships.

But ghosting isn’t necessarily permanent. Sometimes, it can be temporary. People may go through periods of ghosting, in which they stop responding to friends and family for some amount of time, but may then find their way back to their social circles.

Whatever the reason and duration, ghosting can be distressing for the ghostee and, sometimes, for the ghoster.

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Why do people ghost?

People ghost for a million different reasons.

Maybe someone ghosts because of a combination of personality traits. Maybe it’s related to current circumstances in their life or to their feelings about their relationship with the ghostee.

Some possible reasons for ghosting are:

  • apathy or disinterest
  • a desire to avoid conflict, argument, or discomfort
  • the convenience, ease, and anonymity of technology and apps
  • physical distance
  • a busy schedule
  • safety
  • fear of rejection
  • insecurity or low self-esteem
  • emotional unavailability

Part of ghosting, however, is that the ghostee may never really know why the ghosting happened or how things could have gone differently if a conversation had taken place instead.

Does depression make you ghost people?

In the context of mental health, ghosting can take on new meanings.

If you’re wondering whether your depression is making you ghost people, the answer is that it’s quite possible. While people with mental health conditions can certainly ghost for the same reasons as people without those conditions, there are often other factors at play.

The authors of a wide-ranging 2023 research review examined the many ways depression affects social ability and social functioning. They found that depression is likely a major factor in ghosting, or “social avoidance,” meaning depression can make you ghost people.

Decades-long studies included in the review show that depression and depressive symptoms can affect the way that people forge, keep up with, and end relationships. In fact, it’s common for relationships between people with depression and their loved ones to be interrupted by periods of emotional distance.

The review also notes that social cognitive performance (the ability to engage in social behavior) is negatively correlated with depression severity. That means that the more severe someone’s depression is, the harder it is for them to engage with others socially.

It’s a vicious cycle: Depression can make someone more likely to avoid social situations and disengage socially (aka ghost), which can make depressive symptoms worse, which can make that person even more likely to ghost, and so on.

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Why do people with depression ghost?

Just like people without depression, people with depression may ghost for many reasons.

Drawing from a large number of studies, the same 2023 review and another 2023 study report that people with depression often show symptoms and behaviors that can increase the likelihood that they will engage in ghosting as a coping mechanism.

Compared to people without depression, people with depression are more likely to:

  • expect social rejection from others
  • think that negative social interactions are their fault
  • experience social anhedonia, which can make social interactions feel less enjoyable
  • have low self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-compassion
  • ruminate on upsetting interactions
  • feel a need to prevent negative experiences
  • seek to minimize the risk of experiencing rejection
  • think they’re a burden on friends and loved ones
  • seek to minimize the chance of upsetting others with their presence when feeling down

On top of all that, common symptoms of depression can make it difficult to socialize or keep up with friends and loved ones, including:

  • fatigue and lethargy
  • lack of motivation
  • loss of interest in activities
  • anxiety
  • feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness

Even people whose depression is in remission may have a harder time with social interactions. A 2017 study found that, compared to people without depression, people whose depression was in remission were still more likely to avoid socializing.

Taken together, all this can make people with depression turn to ghosting, whether consciously or unconsciously.

What can I do instead of ghosting?

When you have depression, the temptation to ghost can be strong. You may even start ghosting unintentionally, without realizing it’s happening.

But more likely than not, you’ll come away feeling worse, and so will the ghostee. Instead of cutting off contact, here are some strategies for healthier communication:

  • Avoid ruminating on social interactions: It’s easy to slip into this space, but it will likely only make you feel worse about a relationship. Remember that negative interactions aren’t automatically your fault — and chances are the other person doesn’t think the interaction went badly.
  • Talk about how you’re feeling: Instead of sitting alone with your thoughts, consider discussing your feelings about a relationship or social interaction with someone else. Whether with a trusted loved one or a therapist, walking through your emotions can help you process them.
  • Address conflict as directly as you can: If you feel upset about the way an interaction with a friend or loved one went, have a conversation with them about how and why it was distressing for you and what could make future interactions better.
  • Ask for support: If you feel yourself leaning toward ghosting, tell your loved ones that you need a little extra help — in whatever form that takes for you. Maybe they can invite you out or come over and spend time with you. Maybe they can keep checking in, even when you go quiet.
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What do I do if I’ve been ghosted?

If you’ve been ghosted, it can be difficult to process and accept what’s happening, particularly if you have depression.

In fact, a 2017 study found that people with depression showed increased neural reactions to social rejection, which resulted in lower self-esteem and a reduced ability to feel pleasure.

In other words, if you have depression, your brain may experience ghosting differently than the brains of people without depression, making you feel the pain and discomfort of being ghosted more strongly.

Here are some strategies to help you cope with being ghosted:

  • Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling.
  • Let go of shame and remember that what’s happening isn’t your fault.
  • Talk with someone about what you’re going through and how it’s affecting you, whether that’s a trusted friend or loved one or your therapist.
  • Don’t attach your self-worth to the experience — being ghosted isn’t a reflection of you.
  • Try some activities to take your mind off things, such as taking a walk, playing with a pet, or watching a movie.
  • If the ghoster comes back, evaluate whether and how you’d like a relationship with them moving forward.

How can I help someone who’s ghosting due to depression?

If you believe a friend or loved one may be ghosting due to depression, here are some ways you can support them:

  • Let them know you’re there when they’re ready to interact.
  • Reassure them that they’re important to you, that they’re not a burden, and that you care about them and enjoy their friendship.
  • Propose weekly check-ins to help them see that you’re sticking around.

However, it’s important to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself too. It’s OK to take a break from reaching out to protect your own mental health and practice self-care.

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The takeaway

Ghosting, or cutting off communication with someone, can happen for any number of reasons.

For people with depression and other mental health conditions, a combination of symptoms can increase the likelihood of avoiding social situations or interactions, which can lead to consciously or unconsciously ghosting friends and loved ones.

If you feel yourself drifting toward ghosting, try talking about your emotions instead of bottling them up, and address conflict as you’re able to.

While being ghosted is confusing and upsetting, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault and that ghosting is never a reflection of your self-worth or your actions.

Medically reviewed on February 29, 2024

4 Sources

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About the author

Clara Siegmund

Clara Siegmund is a writer, editor, and translator (French to English) from Brooklyn, New York. She has a BA in English and French Studies from Wesleyan University and an MA in Translation from the Sorbonne. She frequently writes for women’s health publications. She is passionate about literature, reproductive justice, and using language to make information accessible.

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