How to cope with depression after moving to a new city?

In this guide we are going to discuss how to deal with depression after moving to a new city. We will also take a closer look at how you might tend to become depressed after moving to new places and what you can do to get better adjusted.

How to cope when you feel depressed after moving to a new city?

Here are some things you can do to cope when you feel depressed after moving a new city:

  • Seek out support be it with a professional or someone in your circle
  • Create a space for yourself
  • Meet the city
  • Make new friends
  • Get involved with your community
  • Manage a healthy routine

Relocation Depression

If you have been experiencing low moods and have been feeling sad or depressed ever since you have moved to a new city, you could be experiencing what has been called “relocation depression”.

Relocation depression is not a diagnosable disorder, however it manifests in people the same way someone with Major depressive disorder or depression might. The only difference is that there is a situational cause related to the development of the depressive symptom 

Depression after moving to a new city or relocation depression generally occurs soon after you have moved to a new city, state, or country due to your job, family, or other reasons. 

Depression is usually identified by its symptoms that involve low or depressed moods over a period of two weeks. Other symptoms seen in depression and relocation depression include:

  • Mood swings – irritability, anger, crying, sadness, anxiousness,
  • Fatigue even when not doing any activities)
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Being unable to focus and concentrate
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem
  • Thoughts about suicide

The symptoms that manifest may be the same as depression; however , it might be accompanied with feelings of nostalgia and longingness, with a deep sense of loneliness. 

You might also be struggling with a sense of aloneness and you might even miss home or familiar things.

Your symptoms can range from feelings of sadness to full blown depression where you are unable to carry out your daily tasks, or meet the demands of your relationships and your job. 

It can be a scary thing, to find yourself amongst unfamiliar people and in an unfamiliar place while struggling through these types of feelings and symptoms. It is important to know that this experience is quite common amongst many movers. 

Even better is that this particular form of psychological and emotional issue can be healed, managed. Usually, these feelings of dejection, sadness, or loneliness go away once you’ve adjusted to your new home and new life. However, if symptoms persist for weeks or even months, it will require professional support and perhaps even treatment.

Causes of Relocation depression

Your reasons for moving can be plenty- it could be because of a new job, a new apartment, family, or due to other personal reasons which might have pushed you to start afresh. 

Whatever your reason may be, this feeling of melancholy or sadness can be difficult to understand and overcome. 

It is even more difficult when the reason is wholly yours, you might be second guessing your choices and yourself. If you have been forced to move, you might feel resentment towards the people who asked you to move. 

Let us take a close look at what is causing this bout of depression after moving to a new city.

It could be Jet lag

Jet lag caused by a difference in time zone can affect your physical health and might even be disorienting during the first few days. Jet lag can make you experience symptoms similar to depression- insomnia, inability to focus, fatigue, feeling unlike yourself, mood changes such as irritability, and even headaches. 

If it is jet lag, this feeling of discomfort usually subsides after a few days- a week or so. Allow yourself to get adjusted with these changes, drink lots of fluid, and develop a better sleep hygiene routine to adjust your sleep  schedule. 

If this sense of dissatisfaction, sadness, and melancholy persists weeks or months after moving. It could be because of other reasons.

Nostalgia

You might be feeling this sense of sadness simply because you are sad and mourning over the loss of what you once knew. This can be one of the major causes if you were made to move- you might be missing the life you once knew, your friends, and other experiences and people you cared about.

If you have moved out of your own volition, you can experience nostalgia even if you were excited to leave. Just because you wanted this change doesn’t mean you won’t miss the place or the people you once knew. 

Transition Stress

Another major reason why the depression rates around the whole are highest for adolescents and young adults is because of the transitions– physical, social, and psychological- they experience during these years. 

If you are moving out of your teenage home into college or from college to seeking out jobs, this is a period that can cause a lot of stress as you try to adjust to the changes in the way you see yourself and the world. This stress, if not handled efficiently and healthily, can lead to depression.

Unhealthy social life

If the new social circle you have entered or if you lack social support, you feeling depressed should not come as a surprise. Social isolation is a major health risk and can impact the way you function. 

The lack of healthy support systems in the form of friends can increase the likelihood of feeling sad, lonely or experiencing low self-esteem. It is important that you maintain positive relationships as you get acquainted with your new home.

Lifestyle

If you have allowed yourself to indulge in a life of freedom or restrictions, it is important that you know that a life without healthy regulations is not as good as people make it out to be.

Lack of sleep, a healthy diet, unregulated work or academic stress, unhealthy social relationships, taking drugs and alcohol could be some of the reasons why you feel depressed. These lifestyle choices could be affecting your physical health and your sense of well-being.

Lifestyle choices also include stress- be it stress from your job or your college. Not making the choice to balance your work stress with a time of relaxation and rejuvenation could be affecting your well-being.

Tips to cope with depression after moving to a new city

Here are some of the things that you can do before and after you move into your new home or your new city that can help you get better adjusted.

Seek out support

One of the first things you can do to help you overcome depression after moving to a new place is to reach out to someone you trust- be it a family member or a friend. Talking about what you are going through can help you process what you are feeling, it can also help you feel less alone. 

You can also take the step to talk to a professional- a psychologist or counsellor who can help you make sense of what you are going through. While you might not have a diagnosable condition- counsellors and therapists can help you gain insight to what you are feeling and coach you on strategies to help cope with your emotions.

In case you notice the symptoms of depression for more than two weeks and it has been affecting your ability to work and causing problems in your relationships, it is perhaps time to consider meeting a physician or a clinical psychologist to discuss the probability of you struggling with Major depressive disorder.

Create your space

The need to belong is a basic human need which when it is not met, it can impact your ability to meet other needs such as achievement and progress amongst other things. 

If you feel like you do not belong in your new home, it is time to take matters into your own hands and claim the apartment or house as yours- especially if you are going to live there for more than one year. 

That means creating and decorating the space the way you want to- the way that reflects who you are and the way it feels comfortable. To make your adjustment easier, you can even decorate the place in a way that it reminds you of your old place. 

Or you can turn things around and explore new parts of yourself to reflect in the space you will reside in. 

Meet the city

You can choose to be a tourist for a few weeks- get to know the place and familiarize yourself with the routes you will frequent. 

You can take it one step closer and truly meet the city by visiting local restaurants that have authentic history in the city. You can take time to learn about the locality you stay in or even take a moment to visit places that align to your interests- local animal shelters, coffee shops, pizzarias, nursing homes etc.

Try making new friends

Try your hand at making new friends- be it your next door neighbour or a classmate who lives close to you. It is important that you build support systems that can help your adjustment to your new life easier. 

Making new friends can be tricky especially if you are apprehensive of new people, take your time as you approach them and be mindful of how they treat you and how you treat them. Any good relationship is one where there is equal give and take, respect, and healthy boundaries. 

Get involved

Join local groups (even if they are on reddit), join some creative classes, attend festivals and events, or even volunteer. Getting involved in the activities around you can bring you closer to your new city and make you feel less alienated. 

It can even help you make new friends and allow you to enjoy various activities outside of your regular routine. If you do not want to sign up for these activities that require commitment, talk to your coffee shop barista or the grocer down the street- get to know them- volunteer to help them out if you are allowed to.

Manage a healthy routine

If your old routine worked well with you, there is no harm in sticking to it. However, there might be slight changes that arise, taking time to adjust to these changes in a way that helps you to stay connected with the people around you and your loved ones can help you get better adjusted.

Maybe go back to exercising- running, yoga, or join the gym if that is something that worked for you in your old city. If you commuted by bus earlier, seek out the bus routes. DO things that are familiar to you and when you are ready, try out other things that the new city offers you as well.

Conclusion

In this guide we have discussed what depression after moving to a new city can look like and what are some of the causes underlying this experience. We have also explored some of the ways you can cope with this issue.

Frequently asked questions related to “Depression after moving to a new city (How to cope when you feel depressed after moving to a new city)”

How do you relieve stress from moving?

Some of the things you can do to relieve or reduce moving stress include making lists and being organised, getting professionals to help you, planning ahead and starting small. Along with these strategies you can choose to get good rest and support from your loved ones.

Can Moving be traumatic?

According to the University Hospital System of Northeastern Ohio, moving is one of the top five traumatic events in life. 

What is relocation stress syndrome?

Relocation stress syndrome is a diagnosis characterized by symptoms such as anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, and loneliness that usually occurs in older adults shortly after moving to a nursing home or assisted-living facility.

How do I stop being sad about moving?

A few things you can do to cope with the sadness you are feeling is to acknowledge and accept the way you are feeling, Allow yourself to be sad and at the same time allow yourself to open up to new possibilities. 

You can also create new routines, and new friendships- you can also reconnect with your old friends. Establishing support can also be one of the best ways to help yourself cope with the trauma of starting anew and alone.

How do you deal with moving emotionally?

Start by acknowledging the way you feel without judgement. Yes, moving away is difficult and it can be heartbreaking even. Once you have acknowledged your feelings, take a moment to evaluate the thoughts in your head that come with these feelings- 

It could be thoughts that involve losing old friends, the challenges of being the “new” person, it could be about loneliness, and it could be anxoeties related to the unfamiliarity of it all. 

Once you have identified your thoughts, evaluate them as to how realistic they are and what you can do to challenge these thoughts. Make action plans based on these hopeful strategies. 

For example, if you are afraid of losing your old friends- communicate what you feel and make a plan to connect every few weeks to talk over the phone or virtually over video calls so that your friendship strengthens and grows.

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