Depression After Finishing A Book (A complete guide)

Today’s blog post focuses on ‘depression after finishing a book’. We begin by understanding how the experience of depression after finishing a book looks like for a writer. After this, we move on to understanding the ways in which this depression can be dealt with by the authors. We then also take into account how the experience of depression after finishing a book would look like for a reader. Lastly, we look into ways in which the readers can deal with this form of depression.

The feeling of depression and sadness after finishing a book is seen as being similar to an empty feeling and has also been called a book hangover or an experience similar to a break up or or death of a loved one. 

Depression After Finishing A Book:

The post book depression has been identified as a very real and troubling syndrome that is known to affect several thousands of people each year. Depression after finishing a book not only affects the readers of the book, but there have been instances where even the authors experience depression after they have finished writing the book. 

The experience of depression after finishing a book for a writer:

A writer spends months and even years writing their books. They pay attention to every single detail within the story. They are responsible for shaping the personalities of the characters, in a way that the reader will be able to relate to them. They have to introduce twists and sub-plots in their story to keep their reader’s attention throughout the book.

Undoubtedly, finishing the book can be a draining, exhilarating and to some extent, even a traumatic experience for the writer.

Soon after the author finishes and publishes a book, there is a high chance that they may get depressed.

There can be few reasons why the authors may experience depression after finishing a book:

  • The initial ‘high’ after writing and publishing the book fades away:

While the authors write the book, finish it and publish it, there is a state of excitement and eustress about the reaction of the audience. Once the audience gives their reactions and the author is appreciated for his or her work, a few days later, a sense of emptiness begins to set in.

This happens because all these months or years the authors had an aim of finishing and publishing their story. Now that they do not have anything to do, they may experience loneliness and depressive symptoms such as hopelessness and irritability. In some cases, they may also feel like a failure.

  • Writer’s block:

Experiencing a writer’s block is a very common problem with many authors. Once the authors complete a book and put out their ideas, it may be a matter of time before they get inspiration for their next book. During this period, there is a high chance they may experience depression as they may struggle to find a new topic to write on.

This period in between can be associated with feelings of sadness, anger, irritability, hopelessness, isolation, sleep disturbances and also appetite loss as the author may feel overwhelmed because they do not have an idea to write on.

  • When the book does not meet the expectations:

For every author, their book is special. It wouldn’t be wrong for them to expect it to be a bestseller, garner awards, have their interviews taken by critiques and seniors. However, symptoms of depression may start to set in when these things do  not happen.

The authors may engage in self-doubt and self-criticism. They are also likely to experience a dip in their self-esteem and may also doubt their skills to write.

  • When the book does not give out the message that it was intended to give out:

A lot of authors experience depression after finishing a book and then publishing it especially when their book gets criticised and the intended message does not reach the readers. This is usually marked by anger, isolation and helplessness along with feelings of hopelessness.

  • They hope that the book will resolve their issues:

Sometimes the authors write about their own issues, in the hope that it will make them feel better, but end up getting overwhelmed due to the flashback of the trauma that they have experienced, which can trigger depression.

  • Feeling ostracised:

After writing and publishing a book, if the book is not read or is not taken into consideration, it can lead the author to feel ignored, isolated and irrelevant and this may trigger depression. 

  • Monetary issues:

No matter how good the author is, writing a book cannot really fetch a lot of money to him or her, enough for them to take care of their expenses, unless they have a day job, or savings or supporting family. The monetary issues may also trigger feelings of depression. 

Can the authors deal with the depression after finishing a book?

  • Doing what they had missed out:

Because writing a book is a time consuming and an energy consuming process, the writers may have missed out on a lot of things in that time. After the book has been finished and has been published, they can look at this time as something that they can use to catch up on what was missed. It could be a movie, a play, a book that they wanted to read, spending time with family, catching up with friends or even catching up on sleep.

  • Moving on:

Several authors explain that although the book they wrote has been very close to them, they need to let it go after it has been published as holding on to it and increasing expectations may fuel the depressive feelings.

  • Looking at the positives:

Another way of dealing with depression after finishing a book is by viewing the positives, that the author was one of the few people whose book got published, when there are many aspiring authors who are unable to complete their manuscripts. This can change their perspective and can help them deal with their perceived loss in a better way.

  • Keep writing:

One way of keeping depression at bay would be to keep on writing, no matter how small or trivial it may be. This keeps the author engaged and may also help them seek inspiration for their next major work. 

The experience of depression after finishing a book for a reader:

Just like the author who experiences depression after finishing a book, a reader may also experience the same. The primary reason for this being that the book often pulls the reader into its world, the reader can identify with the story and the characters and may feel as though this is happening in real time. This is exactly why the reader may experience depression as the book comes to an end and this is commonly called the Post Book Depression.

The post book depression unfolds in four stages:

Stage 1: 

It is the time when the book is nearing its end. Although there will be excitement about understanding how the story ends, the reader may experience their first wave of sadness and hopelessness.

This sadness and hopelessness will come from the fact that the book may end anytime soon and the reader may not know what to do after that.

Stage 2:

This stage occurs when the book is just over. Here the reader may experience a sense of excitement, relief, happiness that they know the entire story, but at the same time, there may be a sense of missing out as the reader may not be able to comprehend what is to be done next. 

Stage 3:

This stage comes with the realization that the book is indeed over. This stage may often be marked with a sense of emptiness and the reader may feel directionless. It may also give rise to loneliness and irritability which may further lead to depressive feelings.

Stage 4:

In this stage the reader may isolate himself or herself as they do not find anything else that is as interesting as the book they read. There may be restlessness, anxiety, appetite loss and sleep disturbances. They may no longer find pleasure in the activities that they previously enjoyed, may not be able to concentrate on other tasks and may have difficulty in remembering things.

They may also have restless sleep and may experience fatigue and lethargy, all of which are classic symptoms of depression.

Can the readers deal with the depression after finishing a book?

Depression after finishing a book can be distressing and as debilitating as depression triggered by any other stimuli.

Here are a few ways that can help readers overcome depression after finishing a book:

  • Stay in contact with the book in some way:

Depression after finishing a book usually comes as the reader realises that he or she may not be able to go back to the characters and the storyline. One way of overcoming this would be writing a review about it, writing about its characters, storyline emphasising on the elements that the reader cherishes.

This will help the reader remain in touch with the book and also will not experience depressive symptoms because of the perceived loss.

  • Discuss with peers:

If the book has also been read by others, it could be a good idea to discuss the book with them as it would offer new perspectives, new ideas and may also help the reader vent out the pent up emotions associated with finishing the book. This can help them move ahead in an adaptive manner.

  • Re-read another old book:

Re-reading an old book rather than a new one will help the reader avoid the stages of post book depression with the new book which can amplify the emotions already experienced. Instead reading an old book can offer comfort, distraction and can help in calming the person down as the reader knows the end and hence is less likely to experience depressive symptoms. 

  • Engage yourself in new activities:

At the end, it is important to remember that there is more to life than the book, no matter how interesting it was. Engaging oneself in other activities such as gardening, cleaning the room, cooking, volunteering, spending time with friends, spending time with family, can help the person divert his or her attention to other equally interesting and important things. This can reduce isolation, irritability, hopelessness and the empty feeling that was experienced. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Depression After Finishing A Book

How do you feel when you finish a book?

Finishing a book can often be accompanied by feelings of sadness and empty feeling, especially if the book has been interesting.

Is reading too much bad for your brain?

Reading is a beneficial activity. However,  reading too much can also kill productivity especially when no new meanings are created. If something is read without deriving a meaning from it, it may not be useful.

Is it normal to cry over a book?

It is perfectly normal to cry while writing overly emotional scenes and scenarios in the book. Writers like JK Rowling and Mitch Albom have stated that they’ve cried over their own drafts while dealing with a difficult situation.

What is the book twitter?

Book Twitter is a vibrant place in social media  where many of your favorite writers actively engage with other writers and readers of their work.

Can reading books make you depressed?

Reading doesn’t contribute to depression in the same way music doesn’t contribute to depression. But if the entire day is spent in the same atmosphere, it can contribute to sadness.

Conclusion:

Today’s blog post focused on ‘depression after finishing a book’. We began by understanding how the experience of depression after finishing a book looks like for a writer. After this, we moved on to understanding the ways in which this depression can be dealt with by the authors. We then also took into account how the experience of depression after finishing a book would look like for a reader. Lastly, we looked into ways in which the readers can deal with this form of depression.

I hope this blog post was successful in helping the readers understand both the sides of depression after finishing a book. Please feel free to drop in your comments and queries below.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://www.pw.org/content/i_just_published_a_book_why_am_i_depressed

http://www.jcdavis-author.com/2015/01/post-book-depression-survival-guide.html

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