Going through a break-up is one of the hardest things to deal with in life and if you don’t look after yourself during this time, your mental health could suffer. But how?
Nobody enjoys going through a break-up. It’s a messy time where blame is put on yourself and your partner, and it can really challenge your mental fortitude.
There are lots of reasons break-ups happen, from huge betrayals like cheating, to a slow breakdown of romantic feelings where the relationship just fizzles out. No matter the reason, you are going to go through a period of mourning the relationship.
This can cause a person to do irrational things, like partaking in adultery while separated, revenge porn, or worse. To help you through this difficult time, and avoid these drastic actions, we’re going to go over how break-ups cause mental health issues, and how you can tell if you’re dealing with it properly or suffering from depression. We’ll then share some important tips to protect your mental health to avoid falling victim to your feelings.
How do Break-Ups Cause Mental Health Issues?
Before we give you some helpful advice on how to cope with a breakup, it’s important for you to understand how it can negatively affect your mental health. A break-up often means a huge change in a person’s life. You’re no longer involved with a person you once loved, or still love, and all the routines you had together disappear along with them.
On top of this, any shared friends you had might start picking sides, leading to the end of some friendships as well. Depending on how intertwined your lives were, you might even have to split finances, find a new place to live, or set up a co-parenting schedule if you have children.
There are also studies that show how break-ups can change the way you view yourself, affect your everyday performance and exacerbate any self-image issues you already have.
Dealing with all of these issues at once can make you feel confused, insecure, anxious and sad, which are understandable emotions. The problem is, if these issues aren’t addressed and overcome, they might trigger severe and long-lasting depression. In drastic cases, this may cause you to act in ways you regret…
The Usual Symptoms After a Break-Up
You have to grieve the relationship to get over it, but there’s a difference between grieving and allowing your sadness to take over and cause full-blown depression. Healthy symptoms of a break-up tend to be:
- Anger and frustration
- Crying and sadness
- Loss of interest in activities
If you’re getting over a breakup, your emotional state should improve little by little as you adjust to life without your partner. If your symptoms don’t start to improve after a few weeks, or get worse, you should speak to a doctor.
Actions That May Show You’re Not Reacting Rationally
With the symptoms of depression and the regular symptoms of dealing with a breakup being so similar, it’s often hard to make the distinction between a normal reaction and depression. In fact, some people can take their reaction a little too far, by engaging in irrational actions, for example:
Adultery While Separated
For those who are married, and haven’t yet managed to finalise the divorce proceedings, adultery during separation might occur if you’re suffering emotionally. This is common for anyone with low self-esteem, or someone willing to take revenge on their spouse.
This might seem like a great idea at the time, helping you to relieve any stress and emotions. That said, this is a bad idea, plain and simple.
Ultimately, this act is likely to take an emotional toll on yourself and your spouse, it may affect the outcome of the divorce. Adultery while separated could completely nullify any favourable settlements for you, leaving you with nothing.
Taking caution with your emotional trauma is paramount when it comes to cases like this. This is why learning to deal with your mental health is super important.
This is the act of sharing any images or videos of your ex that may damage their reputation. These could include sex tapes or nude photos, which are usually shared between one another personally, in confidence.
These days, this is actually a crime in many areas. However, when people aren’t thinking after a messy break-up, they may choose to share these private images without imagining the consequences. Certainly not worth the risk.
It has been known for some people to become so heartbroken and mentally affected by a breakup or divorce that they commit worse crimes than revenge porn. Some may even end up killing their ex, which has happened many a time in the past.
Detecting Depression After a Break-Up
Many people will call these actions “crazy”, and it certainly may seem that way. That said, these actions may be the mark of someone with depression. To be diagnosed with depression, you must have experienced five of the following nine symptoms for two weeks or more:
- Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless for most of the day nearly every day
- No longer interested in activities you used to enjoy
- Significant weight loss and loss of appetite, or an increase in appetite and weight gain
- Sleeping too much or too little
- An increase in unfamiliar movements like pacing or hand wringing, or having significantly slower movement and speech
- Feeling like you have no energy all day
- Feeling worthless
- Struggling to concentrate or make decisions
- Thinking about death a lot, also called suicidal ideation
If you recognise five of these signs in yourself and they’re persistent, you might have break-up depression. However, recognising it is the first step to recovery so it’s actually a good thing that you’ve caught it before it gets any worse.
How to Deal with a Break-Up
Now that you have an idea of whether you have depression after a breakup or not, we can give you some tools to help you make it out the other end.
Before we get into them, it’s important to realise these tips are for people who have mild to moderate depressive symptoms. Anyone experiencing severe symptoms of depression should speak to a doctor or therapist for further help and possibly medication.
1. Keep a breakup diary
With everything happening all at once, you’ll likely be surrounded by ‘break-up fog’. If you want to feel your way through the fog, writing down all your thoughts and feelings on the breakup as they come will help you.
Keeping a break-up diary allows you to log these thoughts and feelings whenever they overcome you and make sense of them. Start with the emotion (e.g. sadness), the reason (e.g. I’m alone in the house at night and miss their presence), and end with a positive action to solve this problem (e.g. call or Skype a friend or family member so I’m not alone).
The diary will also make it easier to see how far you’ve come and determine whether you’re getting better or not.
2. Find new and positive things to do
Interruptions and distractions are one of the best ways to stop you dwelling on negative emotions, and they’re a great way to learn a new skill that can further distract you. So, instead of dwelling on things you did with your partner before the break-up, find new things to do that don’t remind you of them.
Always wanted to play guitar? Do it. Always wanted to write poetry? Do it. Always wanted to run a marathon? Train, and do it.
You can also use this time to go on trips with friends and family to make new memories that don’t involve your ex.
3. Allow yourself to be sad
That being said, you don’t need to distract yourself from your feelings all the time to get over a breakup. If you’re feeling sad about something, sometimes it’s a good idea to have a cry, let it out, and move on. It only becomes an issue if you keep crying over the same thing and you don’t see any improvement.
4. Be healthy
Some of the best advice on how to get over a breakup is to keep yourself fit and healthy. Make sure you eat tasty and nourishing foods to keep your strength up and stave off negative mental health.
Exercising has the same effect; it keeps your energy levels stable and is one of the better distractions you can use to get over your ex. If you can, try to exercise out in nature and let the scenery take you away from yourself for a while.
5. Change your home environment
One of the stages of a breakup that everyone goes through at some point is getting rid of things that remind them of their ex. This includes furniture, pictures, bed sheets, and anything that has their scent on it.
Getting rid of that stuff is a good excuse to get new things, clean up your house, and improve your home environment. Making changes in your home can help you embrace change in other aspects of your life and help you move on to a new chapter.
6. Throw yourself into your work and career
With your ex out of the picture, you don’t have to consider their aspirations anymore and you can focus on your own. Also, all of your time is your own so you can actually get a lot more done.
It might even be time to consider changing your career. Maybe you were working a particular job because it suited the lifestyle you had with your partner. Maybe you were sacrificing what you actually wanted to do to prioritise the relationship.
This is a great way to exert control over your own life at a time where you’re likely to feel out of control, and help you succeed in the future.
Will You Get Over Your Ex?
In this post, we’ve managed to cover how break-ups can cause mental health issues, ways to tell the difference between grieving and depression, and given you some tips for getting over a breakup.
Whether you have full-blown depression or you’re going through the normal stages of grief, the sadness will pass. If you’re grieving normally then you should get over the break-up more quickly with the advice we’ve given you.
Thank you for reading this post and good luck getting over your break-up.