Depression After a Breakup: Treatment and Support

04 September, 2020
It's normal to go through a time of sadness and mourning after a breakup. However, when the symptoms don't go away, or they becomes worse, then you may be looking at a case of depression. Depression after a breakup requires treatment as well as support.

Some people are capable of getting over a breakup very quickly. However, for others, healing from the end of a romantic relationship can be harder and take more time. And there are still others who, in extreme cases, may experience depression after a breakup. In the following article, we’ll tell you about the symptoms of this kind of depression as well as how to overcome it.

Is it depression or a normal reaction to a breakup?

It’s normal to feel sad

A woman crying over a breakup.
After the termination of a romantic relationship, it’s normal to experience symptoms of sadness. After all, it’s the end of a life project that you had in common with someone.

First of all, it’s important to distinguish between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression. Indeed, even when in less serious relationships, it’s perfectly normal to experiences certain feelings and emotions when they end. With that in mind, the reactions that we can consider normal include the following:

  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Insomnia
  • Listlessness and lack of interest

In other words, it’s perfectly normal to go through a time of mourning over a relationship that’s gone south. After all, it’s a type of loss. Therefore, there’s no reason to worry if you experience the above symptoms. And how long this period lasts varies from one person to the next. Indeed, some people need more time, while others are able to move on much more quickly.

We recommend you also read: How to Recover from a Breakup

Depression after a breakup

When it comes to depression after a breakup, the symptoms don’t go away in a matter of weeks or even months. In fact, they can even become worse. Among the symptoms, we can include:

  • Loss of interest in any sort of activity
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of energy
  • Not getting enough sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Intense feelings of emptiness or desperation
  • Loss of appetite, or increased appetite
  • People with depression move more slowly, and may even think and speak in a slower fashion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • In extreme cases, depression can involve suicidal thoughts and tendencies

What to do in the case of depression after a breakup?

The best and most effective way to overcome any sort of depression is to seek the help of a professional. In effect, he or she will be able to guide the depressed individual and give the right kind of therapy. In that sense, a specialist may recommend the following:

Psychological treatment

Psychological treatment after a breakup.
The correct management of one’s emotions after a breakup can be beneficial in terms of self-love, self-acceptance, maturity, and decision-making.

Interpersonal therapy of cognitive-behavioral therapy will consist of changing a person’s negative thoughts. At the same time, the professional will also aim to keep patients from obsessing over their ex-partner or relationship. And, of course, it’ll also be very important to address any feelings of anger. In this sense, cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis are the most common types of therapy.

What’s more, professionals may also recommend relaxation techniques, which will have a very positive impact on patients.

Psychopharmacological treatment

Depending on the seriousness of a given case, a psychiatrist may also prescribe certain antidepressants.

We recommend reading: What You Should Know about Prozac for Depression

Other recommendations

Below are more recommendations regarding depression after a breakup.

  • For example, physical exercise is highly recommended. In effect, the release of endorphins will help depressed individuals improve and overcome their condition. However, there’s no need to go to a gym. Just go out for a walk, a run, or a bike ride.
  • Another common recommendation is to stay busy. In this sense, starting something new is always a good idea. This can be something as simple as reading a book or commencing a new life project.
  • What’s more, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s important not to isolate yourself and seek contact and friendship with others.
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol as a way to escape or find comfort.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet. In other words, seek physical balance with healthy habits
  • Sleep and rest adequately.

The support you need after a breakup

Dinner with friends.
Socializing is one of the keys that will help us face what’s happened and overcome a break up in a healthy way.

In any case, it’s crucial that people with depression have the support of family and friends. You should seek out new friends, broaden your social circle, restore contact with old friendships, etc.

Indeed, one of the keys to overcoming the issue is socializing. This will help take your mind off of your ex, your previous relationship, and the negative feelings you’re experiencing. What’s more, in the specific case of depression, externalizing emotions and talking about the problem with loved ones can be profoundly helpful.

However, people who are experiencing depression often feel incapable of socializing and isolate themselves from others. This brings us to an important question: How can you help a person who suffers from depression after a breakup.

  • First of all, you should find out more about what depression is and what the symptoms are. Knowledge is always the best weapon and tool.
  • Talk with depressed individuals and encourage treatment. It’s important to remind them that their condition has a solution, and it’s easier to find in the context of proper treatment. However, the decision to begin treatment ultimately belongs to the person that’s suffering from depression.
  • Seek help immediately if you suspect suicidal thoughts.
  • Offer support. Listen, reinforce positive thoughts, make plans with the depressed individual (go shopping, get coffee, etc).
  • Be patient. Overcoming depression can be a long and difficult process. However, we should show our support every step of the way.
  • Alan R. Teo et al. “Social Relationships and Depression: Ten-Year Follow-Up from a Nationally Representative Study”, PLoS One. 2013; 8(4): e62396.
  • Jack Mearns, “Coping With a Breakup: Negative Mood Regulation Expectancies and Depression Following the End of a Romantic Relationship”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 60(2):327-34 · March 1991
  • Sociedad Española de Psiquiatría, Terapia Cognitivo Conductual, 2009. http://www.sepsiq.org/file/Royal/LA%20TERAPIA%20COGNITIVO-CONDUCTUAL.pdf
  • Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad, Guía de Práctica Clínica sobre el Manejo de la Depresión en el Adulto, 2014. http://www.guiasalud.es/GPC/GPC_534_Depresion_Adulto_Avaliat_compl.pdf