Can breakups cause depression? 


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Page last updated: 22/10/2022

Can breakups cause depression? 

Yes, breakups can lead to depression. In this brief blog we will look at breakups and strong emotions it elicits. We will understand how breakups can lead to depression, ways you can get yourself through the hard time and know when to seek help. 

Breakups are hard. Just like when your foot falls asleep all of a sudden. It’s natural to go through some pain, especially when you didn’t see the breakup coming—it comes as a shock. You just have to ride it out. And if you can’t, then it’s no wonder that you’re experiencing pains in your chest or headaches, or even getting sick more easily than usual or sleeping too much or not being able to concentrate on work. And this natural reaction is why so many people lose interest in daily activities and might have trouble at their jobs for example. 

All of these emotions can be perfectly normal after a romantic breakup—but if they lead to prolonged feelings of sadness and apathy, it might be a sign that something more serious is going on.

Following the end of a relationship, depressive and other symptoms are occasionally classified as an adjustment disorder with sad mood, also known as situational depression. Because adjustment problems can last anywhere from six months to two years, it’s critical to recognise the signs and symptoms so you can get assistance and support if you need it.

What does depression look like? 

As defined in the recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition), outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

Even though everyone is different, mental health experts have identified some common symptoms that, if you experience for 2 weeks or longer, could indicate depression:

  • persistent feelings of sadness
  • loss of pleasure or interest in activities once enjoyed
  • changes in appetite and weight
  • changes in your sleeping habits
  • feeling fatigued, achy, or low in energy
  • finding it hard to focus and complete tasks
  • feeling irritable, angry, or anxious
  • thinking about death, self-harm, or suicide

A tiny 2019 research project According to Trusted Source, while some people may suffer depression-like symptoms as a result of the termination of a relationship, the emotional reaction may vary depending on the reason for the breakup.

Allow yourself space to mourn the end of the relationship. A time of melancholy, sobbing, irritation, and remorse are all healthy responses. 

Because this is an adjustment phase, you must allow yourself time to deal and recover before moving on. While these sentiments are painful, they normally fade with time as you recover from the separation.

Can breakups cause depression? 

Risk factors 

  • You’ve struggled with depression in the past. If you’ve experienced a depressive episode before, you’re more likely to have another.
  • You have a problem with adjusting. This is a condition in which you respond violently to stress or unexpected change. It may take 3-6 months for your depression symptoms to subside. It may take a little longer in some circumstances.
  • You are socially isolated. You may withdraw from your friends and family if you are depressed. On the other hand, loneliness might exacerbate your unhappiness.
  • You are a drug and alcohol abuser. A drug abuse problem might hide an underlying mood condition or exacerbate sadness.
  • You’re dealing with many pressures at the same time. If you have to relocate, obtain a new job, or experience another type of change or loss at the same time, your breakup may be more difficult to bear.

Ways to feel better after your breakup

It’ll take some time, but there are steps you can take to get through your breakup. Everyone is different, so what helps someone else might not work for you. The important thing is that you take care of yourself along the way.

Stay committed to the real reasons the relationship ended.

Instead of taking thoughts of longings or feelings for someone who isn’t the right person for you as a true testament to whether or not you made the right decision about ending your relationship with this person, trust that it’s completely acceptable and normal to still have these feelings. 

Focus on that latter bit as much as possible—that they’re still not the right person for you—and the rest will soon follow suit!

Delete your ex on all social media.

Once someone is out of your physical life, it’s time to get them out of your digital life, too. You might be tempted to check up on your ex. But these reminders might trigger bad feelings and slow down your recovery.

When you continue to look at someone on social media after a breakup, you’re investing in someone who’s not invested in you. 

Give yourself permission to feel 

Breakups seldom result in just one feeling. If you’re facing an unwelcome breakup, you’re probably mourning because you’ve lost something important to you — yet, because breakups are seldom irreparable, you could also be hopeful, wondering if the chasm between you and your ex might be mended. 

You may experience the dejection that comes with having little control over an unpleasant circumstance, as well as the rage that comes with having someone to blame for your anguish. And, of course, you may still have a strong attachment to your ex.

Of course, most of us want to be free of any negative feelings associated with our separation as quickly as possible. Surprisingly, rather than revelling in bittersweet sensations of tenderness and compassion, the best approach to achieve this may be to embrace your wrath.

Talk about it 

Recent research at the University of Arizona suggests that this uncomfortable-sounding scenario could actually be therapeutic. We recruited 210 young adults who had split from their partner in the past six months and were still struggling to recover. We asked half of this group to come to the lab for what you could call the “no sweat” version of the study: two sessions nine weeks apart, each a half-hour, in which the participants simply completed questionnaires about their recovery. 

When we examined the groups’ final questionnaire scores, we discovered that those whose recovery was closely monitored had more of a certain sort of recovery: Their sense of self was much more distinct. 

When addressing the breakup, individuals were more likely to agree with phrases like “I have rediscovered who I am,” and they used more “I” language and less “we” language. This higher sense of post-split identity, in turn, predicted feeling less lonely and upset over the breakup, according to previous studies.

And as odd as it sounds, you may even want to imagine how the entire story of your breakup would look from a third-person perspective. Researchers at Berkeley have found that this technique, called self-distancing, can help people bounce back from distressing events like rejection.

Time heals wounds 

Even with all the tips, tricks, and Ben & Jerry’s in the world, breakups can be agonizing. But there are a couple of reasons to be optimistic.

Breakups may be both a source of progress and a cause of sorrow. When we think of a separation, we frequently see areas where we may grow as individuals and relationships. 

We may bumble our way back to aspects of our identity that had been neglected and put aside since they didn’t perfectly blend with the personality of our spouse. We may even discover that achieving our goals is suddenly easier: if a spouse was previously extremely unhelpful in promoting your accomplishment, your development may actually accelerate following a breakup.

Start new hobbies and activities 

Consider attending a class or otherwise developing your creativity after you’ve recovered sufficiently to go out of your routine. If there’s anything you’ve always wanted to study, now is a wonderful moment to give it a shot. Literature, painting, language, athletics, writing, and music classes can be found in universities, dance studios, and community colleges. 

We can use creative activities to communicate feelings we don’t know how to express in other ways. Some experts think that when you paint, perform music, or engage in other forms of art, your brain patterns alter and your serotonin levels rise. 

Writing in a notebook can be both artistic and therapeutic. It may help you express your anger and sadness. Keeping them locked up simply adds to the sadness.


Heartbreak, like any other trauma, can put you into psychological shock, also called ’emotional shock’ and ‘acute stress reaction’. You have to be careful not to ignore or deny that you need help. 

So many times people believe that they can go it alone and that they will over power their feelings over time if they’re just tough enough. The reality is, this is an experiment we cannot recommend because the mind works in powerful ways but through trial and error we often learn our lessons and make things better for ourselves and those around us.

It’s critical to remind yourself after a breakup that you were capable of surviving on your own before you entered the relationship, and you will be capable of surviving on your own now that you’re no longer together.


Mental Health Centre, University of Alberta: “Surviving a Relationship Break-Up — Top 20 Strategies.”

Dealing With Depression After a Breakup, Keri Wiginton.

Sad After a Breakup: Is It Depression or Grief? by Lacey Muinos and Sandra Silva Casabianca on August 18, 202.