In today’s blog post we discuss ‘how to overcome breakup depression?’. We start by understanding the various reasons that make breakups a hard thing to accept. We then move ahead to understand and discuss the symptoms of break up, which is then followed by an overview of the issues that may occur if the depression triggered by the breakup is not identified. Further, we look into the different elements that can put some people at a greater risk of depression as compared to others and lastly we view the ways on how to overcome breakup depression.
Breakups are not easy. They tend to turn a person’s world upside down and can trigger a range of emotions. There are individual differences in people’s capacity to cope with a breakup. Some people are able to accept the end of a relationship soon and are able to view it practically, while others may go on for days and months together thinking about and experiencing a range of emotions associated with it and which may, in severe cases, spiral into a breakup depression.
How to Overcome Breakup Depression?
Breakup is indeed a difficult time and may feel like the world is falling apart for a person. It is obvious for the person to experience sadness and overwhelm after the breakup, but it is also important to look out for signs of breakup depression.
Here is an overview of a few ways on how to overcome breakup depression:
- Avoiding maintaining contact with the ex-partner
- Setting thought boundaries
- Meditation and exercise
- Being easy with yourself
- Seek professional help
- Do not isolate yourself
Why are breakups so hard?
When the person experiences love, the response of the brain to the love is similar to that of a drug reaction, that is; brain gives the individual the same feeling of being on a ‘high’ that the person may experience after consuming drugs. It triggers the release of the feel good hormones in the brain. This is exactly why having a breakup is so painful as it stops the release of the feel good hormones making the person experience the anxiety and pain of losing the love.
The stress arising from the breakup can also give the person a feeling as though they are suffering from a heart attack, shortness of breath, chest pain, all of which happens due to the rush of cortisol which is the stress hormone, in response to the breakup. This is medically known as the stress induced cardiomyopathy or colloquially known as broken heart syndrome.
Also, during the relationship, the person gets used to the idea of ‘us’ and ‘we’ that it becomes difficult for them to adjust to life without the partner, with no shared goals and that can affect their self concept, making breakups so difficult.
The symptoms of a breakup:
Break up in a relationship is undoubtedly a sad event. However, we can make a differentiation between the healthy and unhealthy signs of breakup.
Healthy signs of breakup are usually those which can be seen as the obvious reactions to the end of any kind of a relationship. Some healthy signs of breakup include:
- Loss of sleep and appetite
- Loss of interest in usual activities
Although these symptoms are not healthy in its true definition, it can be seen as a normal reaction to a breakup and can be considered obvious. However, when the situation amplifies and the person spirals beyond control, it can be a negative or an unhealthy sign which can lead to breakup depression, such as:
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Losing or gaining weight
- Loss of pleasure and interest
- Difficulty in concentration
- Slow and deliberate movements
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Thoughts of death and dying that is;suicidal ideations.
What causes the symptoms of breakup depression?
These symptoms are a reaction to the breakup as discussed above and can set a ground for a breakup depression:
- Loss of sense of identity:
A relationship is often a very important aspect of a person’s life. The individual’s sense of identity is also associated with it. It gives the person a feeling of warmth, being protected and loved. When the person loses these, the loss triggers the symptoms of breakup depression.
- Involvement of other factors:
A relationship is sometimes not only restricted to the two people involved, but may include several other people such as common friends and families. Sometimes it may also include a child and finances such as a house, a car, bank accounts, insurance money and future investments.
- Changes in the view about self:
Studies show that after a breakup, the person’s view of himself or herself changes leading to a change in their self-concept. It also leads to a change in their self-image which makes them more vulnerable to experiencing emotional distress that can culminate into a breakup depression.
- Change in the view of their surroundings:
Research also shows that post breakup, people show a difference in the way they perceive their academic performance, their ability to concentrate, their homework, their test scores and also their career prospects.
Why is identifying breakup depression important?
Depression is a serious mood disorder that can severely hamper the individual’s social and occupational functioning. Prolonged experience of these symptoms after the breakup can be debilitating and can increase complications. If not identified, it can amplify into a full blown depressive disorder in the form of breakup depression.
It can also then be accompanied by comorbidities such as substance abuse, alcohol addiction, as well as psychosomatic symptoms such as stomach ulcers, headaches, joint pain, chest pain. It can also adversely affect the person’s immune system, making them more prone to infections. In severe cases it can lead to unexplained weight gain, diabetes and an increased risk of heart diseases.
Further, it can also lead to anxiety disorders, lowering of self-esteem, self-efficacy, panic disorders as well as lowering of academic and work performance.
Who is most vulnerable to developing breakup depression?
Some people are likely to be more prone to breakup depression on the basis of the different ways and rates in which they may respond to a breakup.
These elements include:
- Having a history of depression:
If the person has had a family history of depression, chances are that the person is likely to be triggered quite easily to fall into a breakup depression. Further, the person’s past history of depression also makes him or her more prone to developing it post breakup.
- Substance abuse:
If the person has been regularly using drugs, alcohol and smoking as a mechanism to deal with major life events, there are chances that the stress of the breakup will be dealt with in the same way, increasing the chances of breakup depression.
- History of adjustment disorder:
When a person has had a history of strong reactions to unexpected stressful events or changes, the chances of depression increase manyfold and it also may take longer for the person to recover.
- Lack of social support:
If the person does not have a good social circle of friends or family, who are understanding and supportive of him or her, who validate and empathise with the person, dealing with the stress of the breakup can be unbearable for the person making them prone to developing breakup depression.
- Stressors that are already present:
If the person is already experiencing other stress such as stress at the workplace, in the family or the stress due to relocation, then the impact of the breakup can be much more intense as compared to when these stressors are absent or are at a low level.
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.
How to overcome breakup depression?
Here is an elaboration of a few ways to overcome breakup depression:
- Avoiding maintaining contact with the ex-partner:
This may sound difficult, however it is necessary. Limiting contact with the ex-partner allows both the partners the space and time to heal and adjust to the new normal. Maintaining contact will prevent them from moving ahead in their lives. This also includes not maintaining contact with the ex-partner on social media as it is a very easy platform to check on him or her and can trigger emotions that can get difficult to handle.
- Setting thought boundaries:
Using thought stopping techniques can be useful in catching oneself while ruminating. This can include saying the word ‘stop’ loudly so that the person gives himself or herself the signal to stop ruminating, or it can be done using the grounding technique which can help relieve the anxiety that comes from ruminating. Another way of setting thought boundaries would be to set a ‘thought time’ wherein it would only be that time where the person would allow himself or herself to ruminate and not otherwise.
- Meditation and exercise:
Meditation, progressive relaxation, yoga can help in calming the mind which can get overwhelmed by the racing thoughts and rumination.
Additionally exercise can also help the person distract oneself from the thoughts in an adaptive manner. However, care has to be taken that the exercise chosen should match the individual’s personality and temperament.
- Being easy with yourself:
Breakups can lead to a cycle of self-blame, guilt, rumination and anxiety. It is important for the person to tell the self that they are just humans like anyone else and they too can go through these situations that are a part of human existence.
One can easily ruminate over the breakup and it will not lead to any constructive solution. Instead it would only add on to the person’s distress. In such a case, it is advisable to seek professional help to get a better perspective on the problem. Seeking professional help is also strongly advised if the person’s breakup depression is coupled with suicidal ideations.
- Do not isolate yourself:
Isolation and lack of social support can make things worse for a person. Remaining connected with friends and family helps provide the much needed support. It also gives the person a chance to vent out their emotions and talk about their situation without the fear of being judged.
It is important to remember that breakups can be hard, but it is something that almost everyone undergoes at some point in their lives and therefore it is part of human experiences and one should perceive the self in a negative sense.
Frequently Asked Questions: How to overcome breakup depression?
How long do you feel bad after a breakup?
People start to heal in about 3 months after the breakup, however the timeline can differ from person to person.
Is it normal to feel physically sick after a breakup?
A decreased immune system caused by the stress of the breakup makes us more susceptible to things like common colds or the flu. It means the person can experience what can be called the “breakup cold.”
Can a breakup be traumatic?
The break up of a relationship can be one of life’s most traumatic events. Many studies have documented that depression and heart disease may occur as a result of the impact of the breakup and can also lead to breakup depression.
Who hurts more after a breakup?
It is seen that women are more likely to hurt after a breakup. They are likely to experience greater intensity of physical and emotional pain as compared to men.
Can you get PTSD from breakup?
Past trauma can trigger PTSD post breakup as it can worsen the symptoms of PTSD and also hamper the psychological well being.
In today’s blog post we discussed ‘how to overcome breakup depression?’. We started by understanding the various reasons that make breakups a hard thing to accept. We then moved ahead to understand and discussed the symptoms of break up, which was then followed by an overview of the issues that may occur if the depression triggered by the breakup is not identified. Further, we looked into the different elements that can put some people at a greater risk of depression as compared to others and lastly we viewed ways on how to overcome breakup depression.
What we recommend for depression
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.