Relationship Breakup and Depression

Overview

Depression can be caused by many sources, from brain chemicals and hormones to certain life events. It is often triggered by losses, including when a relationship breaks up. A breakup may be even more painful than loss through a death because you may have to deal with thinking that they’re coping well without you or possibly linking up with someone else. You cannot stop the feeling, but you can work your way through it.

Features

Depression is the most common feeling after a breakup, but the grieving process may feature other emotions. Help Guide, a mental health website, explains that anger, confusion, fear and anxiety are also common. The depression may lead to a variety of symptoms such as social withdrawal, irritability, sleeping too little or too much and general loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

Causes

Post-relationship depression has several causes, which will differ for each individual. They may include loss of love, companionship and mutual goals and a lack of financial, emotional or financial support. Many people also feel guilt or frustration at not being able to maintain the relationship.

Solutions

Several solutions may help you work through depression more effectively. Help Guide recommends letting the sadness out rather than suppressing it. Talk about your feelings to supportive people like friends, family members or therapists, or by journaling.

Set a goal of moving on from the painful emotions and focus on positive things you will do as you begin to recover.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts recommends regular exercise, which can boost feel-good brain chemicals, keep you active and prevent isolation.

Misconceptions

Many people believe depression is not appropriate for someone who has escaped from an unhealthy or abusive relationship. This is not true, according to Health Guide. There is loss even when an unhealthy relationship ends. The breakup still signals the end of hopes and dreams that were present at the beginning of the relationship, and it may bring a sense of failure or frustration that things could not work out.

Warning

Some relationship breakups lead to depression that requires professional help, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts warns. You may need professional help if you are unable to move on after a few months or if the grief is so severe that you are unable to function. Talk to your doctor, a psychiatrist or counselor to see if you might need therapy, medication or a combination to help you break through the depression.