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Seeking New Friendships When You're Depressed

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Photography by Westend61/Getty Images

Photography by Westend61/Getty Images

by Maya Capasso


Medically Reviewed by:

Vara Saripalli, Psy.D.


by Maya Capasso


Medically Reviewed by:

Vara Saripalli, Psy.D.


Depression and adulthood itself can make it hard to meet people. Here’s what I’ve tried and plan to try to create more connections in my life.

Making new friends is so difficult. I struggled to make friends even as a child because I was often seen as the weirdo that kids didn’t want to play with. But still, being in school did allow me to make some amazing close relationships simply because of the environment.

Kids go to school and are constantly around other kids, so making connections can be easier. But once you grow up, many of us are no longer in an environment where we see the same group of people every day, apart from the workplace.

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Feeling lonely in adulthood

I work remotely, so I’ve never met any of my co-workers, and I don’t even know if any live in my state.

I have two old friends who live in the same state as me, but they’re over an hour away. I don’t get to see them frequently, so I find myself feeling lonely quite often. I spend a lot of time with my parents and dogs, but I wish I had people around my age to hang out with.

But how do I make friends in a world without automatic communities?

On top of that, making friends when you struggle with your mental health can be incredibly challenging. My depression makes it hard to feel motivated to try to make friends because it urges me to isolate myself.

My social anxiety doesn’t help the situation.

When I do get myself out there, I tend to freeze up because I’m so scared I’ll do something wrong or say something annoying.

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Lacking connection makes the cycle continue

I desperately miss having close friends around me. I had a tough time in high school, so the highlight of my day back then was usually seeing my friends and having a good time with them. I lived with my best friends in college and made the memories of a lifetime with them.

But now I’m 25 and live nowhere near any of my friends, and I’m so lonely.

I want to see a friend after work or spend time with them on the weekends. But I’m stuck. I struggle to make connections because of my mental health and how the world is structured.

I refuse to give up on making friends because I know my lack of friendships is a huge factor contributing to my depression. It’s a terrible cycle. I feel depressed, so I isolate myself. But because I’m not connecting with others, I feel even more depressed.

The only way to break the cycle is to put myself out there and make friends in my city.

What I’ve tried

I’ve already tried a few ways to make friends. Some attempts were more successful than others, so I’d like to share the pros and cons of each method I’ve tried.

I also have future plans for making friends that I hope can inspire someone to make connections and feel at least a little bit more hopeful.

Taking an art class

Last November, I was in a bad place. My ex-girlfriend and I split up the month before, and the loneliness was overwhelming. I was used to spending all my free time with my partner, so suddenly losing that was tough.

To occupy my time, I watched a lot of TV. I was watching “The Great Pottery Throw Down,” a reality show about a bunch of potters who compete in challenges in the hopes of becoming this year’s winner.

As I watched, I had two main thoughts. One was, “Making pottery looks fun.” The other was, “All the potters on the show seem so kind and fun, and I want to be surrounded by a group of people like that.”

I pulled out my phone, looked up “ceramics classes near me,” and signed up at my local craft center.

I had to wait until February for the classes to begin, but I had a blast when they did. I loved working with clay on the wheel and messing with different glaze combinations when it was time for the final firing.

But even though kind people with shared interests surrounded me, I could not make friends because of my social anxiety. It’s hard for me to engage with new people, especially when I could focus on my work in the studio rather than chat with classmates.

I learned that it takes me a while to warm up to people. The class was 6 weeks long, which didn’t give me enough time to bond with my classmates. By the final class, I finally felt ready to begin talking to people and trying to make connections. But at that point, it was too late.

Next time I sign up for a course to make friends, I’ll choose something that lasts longer.

Going online

In the age of the internet, many people make connections online rather than in person. It makes it much easier to reach out to people because online meeting places — like dating apps and sites like Meetup — are created specifically for people to build connections.

Forming online friendships may be accessible, but there is a level of disconnect that makes it hard to find people who also want to hang out in person.

I go online occasionally to make friends because it’s so easy to pick up my phone and browse through apps like Bumble BFF. But when it comes to building a more profound, in-person connection, I struggle.

I’ve met two friends online in the past year. I hung out with one of them twice before they ghosted me for no apparent reason. I sometimes text with the other one, but I’m anxious about spending time with them in person because we primarily communicate over text.

My next challenge is to turn my friendship with my online friend into a friendship in person.

Going out

Lastly, I’ve tried making friends by going to bars and talking to strangers. This technique has been the least successful for me. While I feel much less anxious after a few drinks, relying on alcohol to make friends is a slippery slope.

On top of that, going out is overwhelming. It’s loud and strangers fill up every corner. I went to my city’s new lesbian bar on its opening night, and it was so overwhelming that I had to leave after 15 minutes.

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What I plan to try

My prior experiences trying to make friends helped me create a plan for the future. Even though I’ve had more failures than successes in my attempts, I refuse to give up. Making friends in our society as adults is challenging for anyone, and living with depression and social anxiety makes it even harder.

It will take a lot of work, and sometimes I want to give up. But I know I can’t because I want to build a life I love — and I can’t do that without friends.

Take more classes

Even though I struggled to make friends in my first ceramics class, I still think I could potentially find a new friend in a course if I choose something with a longer duration.

I also need to push myself to be more social earlier in the course, even if it’s scary. I also love learning new arts and skills, so I will enjoy myself even if I don’t make any friends.


I believe it’s essential to be an active member of my community. But since I moved to my city last year, I’ve been too depressed to get my work done, let alone add extracurriculars to my plate.

Since taking the ceramics class, I realized going out into my community can help me improve my mental health while also supporting my city at the same time. I plan to look for a long-term volunteer opportunity so I can see the same people every week and form friendships with them over time.

Work on social anxiety and self-esteem in therapy

One of my most significant barriers to making friends other than my depression is my social anxiety.

Even if I manage to overcome my urge to isolate and get myself out of the house and to the social setting, my social anxiety causes me to freeze up and refuse to engage, making it challenging to connect with people fully.

If I can work through some of my social anxiety with my therapist, I might feel more confident meeting new people and building connections without having my walls up.

Reminder: Be easy on yourself

The most important thing I have to remember is to be kind to myself throughout the process. It’s easy to wonder if there’s something wrong with me for not being able to find a great group of friends near me quickly.

I always remind myself that I’m worthy of friendships, and my circumstances prevent me from finding friends. It’s not anything about me.

When I’m hard on myself, I want to give up because it doesn’t feel worth the struggle. But when I’m kind to myself, it’s easier to feel hopeful that I’ll make new friends someday. 

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The bottom line

I struggle to make friends as an adult because I work remotely and have depression and social anxiety. While my depression sometimes tells me to isolate myself, I know the key to improving my life is building connections with others in my community.

I’ve tried and failed many times to make friends so far, but I refuse to give up. Instead of running from my failures, I turn them into lessons to help guide my search for friends in the future.

Medically reviewed on July 11, 2023

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About the author

Maya Capasso

Maya (she/they) is a professional freelance writer and cold pitch coach. Her writing is featured in TransLash News & Narrative, HorrorPress, the Episodes Newsletter, and more. They’re passionate about mental health advocacy and social justice. She manages the Accessible Cold Pitch blog and email newsletter to help freelancers connect with their ideal clients. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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