Depression in Men After a Breakup (5 ways to cope)

Depression in Men After a Breakup (5 ways to cope)

In this blog post, we will explore depression in men after a breakup. How do men behave after a breakup? Why is there a difference between the behaviors of men and women after a separation? Why are men more likely to get depressed? How can men cope with depression after their relationship ends?

Depression in Men After a Breakup: How They Behave

Society expects men to fit into a stereotype of “masculinity” wherein they are told to be aggressive, independent, unemotional, and are discouraged from talking about their feelings openly. This stereotype would indeed affect how they deal with their relationship. 

Men’s partners are commonly the ones who actively listen to them and work with them to resolve their problems. Therefore, when a man’s partner decides to leave them, they find it challenging to cope with their issues. 

Research shows that, on average, men feel negligibly less emotional pain than women immediately after the breakup. However, on a long-term scale, women are more likely to completely recuperate after the split. On the other hand, men are not seen to experience such recuperation; they simply go on with their lives.

Causes

The difference between how women and men cope with a breakup could be for several reasons, including:

  • Coping Style
  • Social Support
  • Biological Factors
  • Conditioning
  • Control
  • Processing Emotions
  • A Break in Routine

Coping Style

One plausible reason for such stagnation in men could be that their partners tend to encourage adaptive behaviors and discourage maladaptive ones while in relationships. Therefore, after the breakup, men may turn to such maladaptive behaviors, such as smoking or drinking, in a way of coping. It could be to go back to old habits or refrain from feeling the unpleasant emotions that entail a separation. 

Social Support

Women are more open about their emotions and have a social support system to turn to while venting their feelings. On the contrary, men typically suppress their feelings and might have opened up only to their partner during the relationship. Men commonly have a smaller, less emotionally closely-knit group of friends. 

One study found that more than 70% of men turn to their wives when they feel depressed, while less than 40% of women reported going to their husbands for such concerns.

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Biological Factors

Men are wired differently from women in that they do not register emotions and instincts as effortlessly as women do. This factor, along with the masculine stereotype, makes it challenging for men to express their vulnerability. 

Conditioning

Although men feel depression as intensely as women, they tend to shove it aside as another feeling like anger. They are conditioned to deal with something that “happened” to them rather than feel lonely or depressed.

Control

Most of the breakups, including separation and divorces, are initiated by women. Women have time to prepare themselves for the future before they talk about the end of the relationship. It indicates that men do not have much time to process and get ready for their future, and therefore, breakups can disrupt their lives unexpectedly. 

Things get more complicated if children are involved as men might lose contact with their children, who are typically sources of safety and comfort for parents. These factors of unpreparedness, emotional turmoil, and multiple losses can affect them severely, leading to depression.

Processing Emotions

When a relationship ends, women become introspective and evaluative. They assess themselves, their situations, and their social atmosphere. Additionally, they are more ready to seek comfort and help from others, including friends and mental health professionals. Women also engage in educational and recreational sources to understand themselves and their relationship better. 

On the other hand, men go out of their way not to address their problems and deal with their emotions. They may turn to alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, which could lead to legal, occupational, and health problems. Men might also overindulge themselves by splurging on cars and other luxuries in an attempt to suppress their emotions. 

A Break in Routine

Although men have become increasingly participative in household responsibilities, women continue to be more responsible. They are usually involved in routine work, like taking care of laundry, organizing and preparing meals, and planning activities for the weekend. Therefore, a breakup disrupts such routines.

Often, women tend to take on more responsibility regarding socializing activities. Hence, the end of a relationship tends to make men feel withdrawn and extracted from social surroundings. 

How to Cope with Depression After a Breakup

Having understood the difference in behaviors between men and women after a breakup and why men tend to suffer from depression more often than women, let us see how men can cope with the condition. 

  • Professional Help
  • Increase Productivity
  • Socialize
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Prepare to Feel Intensely
  • Foster Healthy Habits
  • Identify Your Values
  • Avoiding Self-Medicating
  • Try to Feel Hopeful 

Professional Help

Remember that taking professional help is the most important way to recover from depression post-breakup.

Consulting with a mental health professional will not only help you recover from depression but also allow you to learn to cope with other life stressors you may be facing currently or in the future. 

Increase Productivity

Although your daily life may get disrupted by the breakup, allowing yourself to engage in tasks that boost productivity and creativity can help you. Do things that bring even the slightest joy to you. Create short-term goals for you or break down a big task into smaller ones to complete them more easily.   

Socialize

Remember to stay in touch with friends, family, and other close ones. Withdrawing yourself can worsen your depression. Although you may feel embarrassed by your breakup or separation, you will quickly understand how understanding, compassionate, and supportive people can be. Even online support networks can be useful. 

Invite friends and family for lunch or dinner. Staying connected combats feelings of loneliness. Cooking meals for people can also bring on a sense of accomplishment. 

Relaxation Techniques

Learn techniques that help you relax, including deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. These techniques may seem difficult initially, but they get easier with dedication and practice and can be extremely beneficial for you. These methods allow you to process your emotions and learn to accept and let go without judging them. 

Prepare to Feel Intensely

You may feel emotions like rage, a sense of rejection, depression, and grief rather intensely. Do not try to control or suppress these emotions. Allow yourself some time to sit with these feelings instead of acting on them and doing something you might regret later.

You most probably will feel emotions like guilt and shame when a relationship ends. Guilt is usually restricted to a specific event and can be an all-consuming feeling, while shame is less localized, more pervasive, and affects your self-concept and self-esteem. Guilt sometimes is justifiable, whereas shame usually is not. Ensure you process these emotions thoroughly.

Foster Healthy Habits

Get into an organized routine and ensure that you include healthy habits, such as eating nutritiously, exercising, and sleeping adequately. Take care of your physical health as it is easy to neglect it when you are depressed. It may be challenging in the beginning, but with time and effort, it becomes more convenient. 

Identify Your Values

Instead of living in the past, discover and explore new passions and interests. Your self-esteem may take a blow, and hence, it is imperative to connect with your values. Ensure your actions are aligned with your values. For instance, sincere parenting might be a critical value. Therefore, find ways to utilize this even when you feel anger, resentment, or anxiety. 

Avoid Self-Medicating

There is a tendency among men to turn to alcohol and other drugs after a breakup. Be wary of the consequences of such indulgence, including legal and medical problems. Such self-sabotaging behavior typically worsens depression and make the road to recovery much more obscure. 

Remember that alcohol is a depressant. Therefore, despite its way of making you get “putting you to sleep,” so to speak, it typically hinders your sleep as you may wake up multiple times. Hangovers the next day make you feel agitated and emotionally fragile.

Moreover, alcohol may make you feel uninhibited, which might make you act on any suicidal ideations. If you are experiencing suicidal ideations, visit SAMHSA’s National Helpline if you are in the United States. If you live anywhere else, find the hotline of your region here.

Try to Feel Hopeful 

Although heartbreak can seem never-ending, and you may have thoughts of ending up alone, it typically gets better with time. Eventually, you do start feeling better and less lonely. How you feel currently can obscure your thoughts on the past and the future, which is why you may think pessimistically. 

Instead of wallowing, try to be introspective and read up on how you can have better and sustainable relationships in the future. Not only does this activity prepare you for future relationships, but it also fosters a sense of hope and optimism. You can even seek help from mental health professionals who are experts in relationships. 

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Conclusion

In this blog post, we explored depression in men after a breakup in great detail. We gained insights into the difference in men and women’s behaviors after a breakup and the reasons for such dissimilarities, and why men are more likely to be depressed. Finally, we understood ways men can cope with depression after a breakup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Depression in Men After a Breakup

How long do men take to come to terms with a breakup?

One study reported that men take around three and a half months to come to terms with a breakup and feel prepared to date again. 

Can a breakup be traumatic?

Yes, breakups can be traumatic as it causes intense grief from the loss of a relationship. Many people report suffering from depression and even cardiovascular issues after a separation. 

Can a breakup lead to psychological problems?

Yes, a breakup can lead to psychological problems like intense emotional distress or depression. They could also experience adjustment disorder, which shares symptoms with depression and is sometimes known as situational depression. 

Can a breakup cause PTSD?

People with exposure to trauma in the past are likely to develop or worsen PTSD after a breakup.

Can infidelity cause PTSD?

Yes, infidelity can cause PTSD. It is experienced as a traumatic event in a way that abuse or the death of a loved one is experienced.  

What are the different phases of a breakup? 

Breakups are typically experienced as grief, the stages of which include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

People typically go through the first four stages before reaching the final stage of acceptance.

What should you never tell somebody with a psychological concern?

Here are a few things you should never tell somebody with a psychological concern.

  • “Snap out of it!”
  • “Everything is going to be okay.”
  • “It is not that bad.”
  • “Many people have it worse.”
  • “It is all in your head.”
  • “Think positively.”
  • “But you seem so normal.”
  • “Everybody gets depressed/OCD/moody.” 

References

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

https://www.pennlive.com/bodyandmind/2009/04/breaking_up_is_hard_to_do_espe.html

https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/depression-after-breakup-jrrd/

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Ananya Ramesh is a mental health professional with a master's degree in clinical psychology. She has unconditional passion and sincerity toward working with psychologically distressed populations, specifically young adults and middle-aged people. Apart from this, she takes an abundant interest in producing and refining content related to mental health, psychology, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Outside of work, she enjoys reading and sketches portraits.