Depression Caused by Heartbreak (A guide)

This blog guide will help us understand if depression can be caused by heartbreak and how. We will also get to know the signs that depression is caused by heartbreak before understanding how to manage it. 

Can Depression be Caused by Heartbreak?

Yes, depression can be caused by heartbreak. As depressive symptoms can vary in intensity, it is challenging to identify if what you are experiencing is a normal response to heartbreak or if it is indicative of depression.  

Grief is not restricted to the death or loss of a loved one. People grieve upon losing a job or even a relationship. However, some reactions can be extreme to the point of developing a mental health condition like depression. Let us see how depression manifests after heartbreak.

How Does Heartbreak Cause Depression?

A relationship coming to an end could evoke unpleasant emotions as it is a significant part of our lives. The end of a relationship signifies that the person who was a routine in your daily life is no longer there apart from leading to various major changes in your everyday living.  

If you and your partner had any mutual friends, there could be disruptions or side-picking, which could end other friendships. Moreover, based on the seriousness of the relationship and to what extent your lives were intertwined, there may be major changes in your finances and housing. The matters get more complicated if children were involved.

Breakups can have a massive impact on self-image. If your partner broke up with you, there may be a lot of insecurities and you may constantly question yourself about where you went wrong. If you are still pursuing your education, it has been shown that after a breakup, students tend to doubt their educational competence, which includes attention, exam results, and assignments. 

Heartbreaks affect your self-image, and those experiencing more negative impacts are likely to be more distressed. 

These alterations can be tremendously difficult and exhausting, causing confusion, anxiety, profound sadness, and insecurities. Sometimes, these changes can lead to more severe disorders like depression. 

Anybody can be afflicted with depression, but certain individuals are particularly susceptible.  Although the cause may differ, if you have a history of any mood disorder, you are more likely to experience an episode after heartbreak.  

Other factors like hormonal changes or the simultaneous occurrence of something that is life-altering like the loss of a job or a loved one, could also increase the risk of developing depression after heartbreak.

Signs that Depression is Caused by Heartbreak

Remind yourself that it is okay to grieve after the end of a significant relationship. Grief is a part of the healing process. However, as mentioned before, not every reaction is normal; specific individuals have a maladaptive response to a breakup. It is imperative to identify the differences between an adaptive and maladaptive response to determine if your reaction requires professional attention.

Typical responses to heartbreak may entail:

  • Intense sadness;
  • Anger, irritability, and frustration;
  • Crying;
  • Loss of interest in pursuing activities that were once enjoyable;
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia; and
  • Fear

Although these symptoms are difficult to deal with, they get easier as time goes by as you start adapting to living without your significant other. You may take more or less time than your partner does to get used to life after a breakup. However, be patient, as everybody takes their time to make such adjustments.

However, if these symptoms seem particularly troublesome or linger for longer than ideal, it is best to consult a mental health professional. Look for the presence of several of the following symptoms as they could indicate depression:

  • Profound sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness for prolonged periods;
  • A sense of worthlessness;
  • Changes in appetite, which have led to weight loss or gain;
  • Fatigue and a lack of energy to engage in basic activities;
  • Trouble concentrating and with decision-making;
  • A loss of interest in pursuing activities that used to be pleasurable;
  • Ideations or attempts of self-harm or suicide; and
  • Agitation (quickening) or retardation (slowness) of movement and speech 

It is more vital to consult a doctor immediately if you experience either of the last two symptoms. If you have suicidal ideations, call a hotline at once. You can find the hotline for your country at www.suicide.org. 

How to Manage Depression Caused by Heartbreak

It can be a tremendously painful time, but there are ways to help yourself. Firstly, take professional help as it can do wonders for enabling you to overcome your problems and experience an improvement in overall mental well-being. Let us look at some things you can do to manage depression caused by heartbreak. 

  • Do not be irrationally driven;
  • Do not stay in the past;
  • Practice self-care;
  • Practice self-compassion;
  • Appreciate the good memories; and
  • Tend to your needs.

Do Not be Irrationally Driven

If you let yourself get emotionally carried away with the breakup, it will be even more difficult to move forward. Instead of looking at the breakup as a failure of your relationship, view it as a chance for self-development and learning important lessons. Regardless of whether this was your first relationship or not, you can work on understanding yourself and growing your relationship skills

If you are angry about the relationship and the breakup, the anger could turn into a desire to avenge your heartbreak by fantasizing about ruining their lives in some way. 

Remind yourself that inflicting pain on another person will not reduce yours. If anything, it may leave you feeling worse retarding your recovery.

Do Not Stay in the Past

We tend to view our past and specific relationships in a more positive light than it was. It makes you look at the fun, pleasant memories while obscuring the negatives. 

When the pleasant and unpleasant memories run through your mind incessantly, it could feel intrusive and hinder your healing process. It could be more emotionally distressing. Although it is challenging, attempt to stay on track and not lose sight of what is. There is no “perfect” relationship and trying to put yours on a pedestal could indicate the need to dissociate yourself from the issue and re-evaluate your needs. 

By making it seem rosier than it was, you may start engaging in destructive behaviours like constantly looking at your ex’s social media or wanting to text them every so often. Seeing them post pictures with their new partner could evoke unpleasant feelings and unsettling memories. To cope with this, you could try putting a distance by deleting their contact or unfollowing them.

If you choose to stay intertwined with your ex’s life even when they are not around, it could deter your healing process and you will not be able to move forward.

Practice Self-Care

Neglecting yourself and your needs are going to worsen your condition. Engage in activities that are beneficial for your overall well-being, such as eating well and nutritiously and exercising regularly. The pain from a break-up can have physical manifestations as well. Try pursuing interests and hobbies that appeal to you. 

Having a strong and intimate support system in place is useful. Although your romantic relationship ended, it is not the only nurturing companionships we establish in life. Having an enriching and supportive relationships with family and friends can do wonders for you.

Practice Self-Compassion

Being compassionate toward yourself is vital in recovery. Allow yourself to take time and process your grief and other emotions instead of being hard on yourself to “move on.” Remember that just the way it took time to build your relationship, it will take time to ween off of it and build yourself. Be kind, tender, and tolerant to yourself. 

Similar to having nurturing relationships with friends and family, it is vital to develop one with yourself. Feeling culpability or embarrassment about your part in the bond can make directing compassion toward yourself challenging. You also tend to attract people of similar mental health, so if you are not kind to yourself, kindness from others can be hard to come by.

Consult a professional for working through your loss and emotions. Ensure that the therapist is a good fit for you wherein you feel comfortable and can trust them. Working with a skilled and nurturing mental health professional on any day is beneficial but can be even more useful during this period of heartbreak. 

Appreciate the Good Memories

Even if toward the end of your relationship things got messy, try to look back at it with some amount of detachment. In other words, thinking about your relationship could stir up unpleasant or overwhelming emotions while evoking pleasant ones like the things you miss about it or your ex. Try to hold these contradictory feelings together.

Having bad and good emotions at once need not be something to try and get out of. They can be held together in harmony. It is part of your recovery. So, when good recollections come up, do not fight them and try to allow yourself to be thankful for it and then let it go. 

Tend to Your Needs

Being honest with yourself about your needs (especially those that aren’t being met) can be a painful process. You may feel it would be easier, and less painful, to simply ignore them.

You may feel better temporarily when you try to make yourself detached and pretend like you do not have needs. Doing this obstructs your healing process and growth. Acknowledge that you have needs, ranging from sleep to sexual requirements. If you are on medication for regulating your mood, sleep, or anything else, do not feel embarrassed. It would only add to your already stressful life.

  • Ensure your sleep cycle is in place. Have a structure that allows you to go to sleep and wake up early.
  • Touch, warmth, physical comfort, and softness tend to aid in the healing process. Try to keep all of your sense modalities engaged by listening to music, lighting fragrant scents, and engaging in skincare. 
  • Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet that can make you feel satiated and nourished despite the struggles.
  • Engage in other basic care, such as taking a shower, taking a walk, stepping outdoors to get ample vitamin D. 
  • Do not ignore any bodily issues you may be experiencing. Go for regular check-ups to ensure you are physically fit. 

Conclusion

This blog guide allowed us to understand how depression can be caused by heartbreak, its signs, and how to manage the same. 

Tell us if you or anyone you know has experienced heartbreak and how you or they dealt with it in the comments.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions: Depression Caused by Heartbreak

What can happen after heartbreak?

It is possible to suffer from what is known as broken heart syndrome after heartbreak. The symptoms include chest ache and shortness of breat, which can occur despite absence of a cardiovascular problem. Arrhythmias and cardiogenic shock are also a possibility in this syndrome.

Why do breakups hurt so badly?

The brain processes the emotional struggle of a breakup like how it processes physical hurt. This explains why you feel like you are in physical distress after a breakup. There is a reduction in dopamine and oxytocin (feel-good hormones) and a surge of cortisol (a stress hormone) after a breakup. 

Can heartbreak lead to a psychological condition?

Yes, heartbreak can lead to a psychological condition. Feelings of intense sadness and other unpleasant emotions are common and understandable after a breakup. However, if these emotions do not get better with time or if the intensity is severe than earlier, it is important to consult a professional for there may be something more serious, like depression.

Can you heal after a heartbreak?

Yes, you can heal after heartbreak. Although after the end of your relationship, you may feel like you will never heal get back on your feet, it is untrue. You will eventually start to feel better. 

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.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/two-takes-depression/201202/broken-heart-syndrome-its-real-and-its-rough

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-heal-a-broken-heart-1065395

https://www.verywellmind.com/breakup-depression-4768558

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