- Welcome -

If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.


Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


If you feel more lonely than you can bear, your feelings of loneliness can trigger a binge.  Loneliness is not about being alone. It's about feeling isolated or marooned. It's about feeling unloved in a world where others are loved, unknown, where others are known, unreachable with no one stretching out a hand to you.

One woman, alone in bed, wakes up in the night or early morning with terrible anxiety and feels her loneliness because she has no one or nothing to hold on to. Yet another woman, in bed with her husband of many years, awakens to similar feelings of fear and dread and feels just as alone and lonely.

If powerful feelings of loneliness endure with little or no respite, you can move into despair, where nothing you say or do or feel seems to matter. These feelings are painful down to your soul.

If you have no way of helping yourself, you may reach for your eating disorder to take you out of your experience. Bingeing, or combining a binge with a purge, for hours or days can put you in such an altered state that loneliness is overwhelmed by your eating disorder.

Look at this quiz and see what your level of loneliness might be. Addressing your loneliness may play a big factor in your eating disorder's healing and recovery.

I've modified these questions, which come from the UCLA Loneliness Scale created by Dr. Daniel Russell.

  1. Do you feel sad because you do many activities alone?
  3. Do you yearn to have someone you can confide in or just chat with?
  5. Do you feel sometimes or often that you simply can't bear being alone so much?
  7. Do you feel that no one understands you and that probably no one could?
  9. Do you wait by the phone for someone to call or hope you'll find a letter in the daily mail?
  11. Do you sometimes or often feel that you are totally alone in the world?
  13. Do you have urges to break your isolation and connect with someone but can't find a way to do it?
  15. Are friends hard to come by?
  17. Do you feel that it's part of your ordinary experience to have people reject you out of hand and exclude you?

Part of the normal human conditions is to say yes to all of these questions once in a while. But if you say yes to many of these questions because they represent your usual experience in life, you are lonely and need to develop relationships that can nourish you. That means you need to discover ways to heal from this lonely position and reach for people rather than food to enrich your life.

You may not know that ways exist to bring you out of this pattern of loneliness. Developing confidence and the ability to relate in a healthy way to other people is often part of the healing that occurs in psychotherapy. Mindfulness practices, within psychotherapy or on your own, can nurture your spirit and help your mind to see new possibilities for you.

Personally, I don't believe a person can decide not to be lonely and make it happen. I believe you have to heal your way out of loneliness and that, with help, you can.

See this interview with John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D.  He directs the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. He also co-authored Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, which explores the evolutionary roots of loneliness.

How does loneliness affect you?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.

She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder

Appointments are virtual.

For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Add comment


Who's Online

We have 3281 guests and one member online