5 Ways To Cope With Depression After A Breakup

Photo: getty
depressed woman on overcast beach
Heartbreak

Can a breakup affect your mental health? Is depression after a breakup common?

You bet!

Even if you’re the one who’s breaking up with your partner, it can still be hard on you, physically and emotionally.

The breakup struggle is genuine, painful, and confusing. Breakups can make you feel like a different person and bring up all kinds of insecurities and terrible thoughts about yourself.

Guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, are just a few.

There are people out there who can brush off a breakup and move on quickly. Yet, other people are devastated because of the loss of their significant other, partner, spouse, or lover.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why You Can't Move On From Your Breakup

Experiencing depression after a breakup is common.

Understanding the symptoms of depression is an excellent start to help you through a tough time of getting over attachment you had to someone you once loved, or maybe still love.

There are varying degrees of breakup depression. You could go from feeling a little sad one day, to experiencing something that feels more like a deep, dark hole you don’t think you can ever climb your way out of.

Feeling grief and sadness is normal after a breakup.

It's not exactly a good time, but feeling heartbreak is normal after a breakup or divorce. You can get through it.

Even if you don't like or love the person anymore, it’s still one of the most challenging parts of pain known to men and women worldwide.

Breaking up doesn’t mean you will have severe depression or anxiety. But, you will more than likely feel some sadness and pain. And, you're not alone.

There's a difference between depression and "regular" breakup sadness.

Both hurt a lot, but breakup sadness is easier to get over than certified depression.

I went through depression for four solid years until I found the right combination of techniques that helped me finally get over the torture of losing someone I loved.

What are some normal breakup symptoms?

Feeling sad
Insomnia and sleeplessness
Ignoring your hobbies
Not connecting with friends and family
Crying frequently
Anger and rage 
Feelings of frustration

None of these feelings are a walk in the park, but they are typical symptoms many experience post breakup.

It takes time adjusting to being single again, especially if you were partnered up for a long time. But, just because you’re sad, it doesn't mean you’re depressed.

If you’re feeling low, it’s completely normal. And it’s essential to know the difference.

Depression, on the other hand, is a whole different story than regular old sad feelings.

Symptoms of depression after a breakup.

Sadness almost all day, every day.
Lack of joy that used to be there.
Five percent (or more) weight change — gaining or losing. (I lost 20 pounds after my divorce, and it was not intentional.)
Sleeping too much, experiencing insomnia, or even both.
Feeling worn down or restless. (Breakups can make you feel anxious or like you can’t drag yourself out of bed.)
Exhaustion on most days. (For me, it was all days.)
Feelings of hopelessness, extreme guilt, or unworthiness.
Concentration problems.
Thoughts of suicide or death.

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with depression, have had a different disorder concerning your mood, or another significant life change, such as hormonal changes or losing a job, you may be at higher risk for depression after a breakup.

So, if you think you're depressed, see a professional doctor for a checkup, healing work, therapy, coaching, and a lot of self-care.

When you’re depressed due to heartbreak, all you can do is take it one step at a time. Remind yourself that you have to start somewhere.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Push Past A Broken Heart After A Breakup

Here are 5 ways to overcome depression after a breakup.

1. Decompress with activities you enjoy.

Read a fiction book, clean out your kitchen drawers, or help a friend plant some flowers. You can even new language or read more about self-love.

Being gently active helps with decompression from depression. Stretch and release some of your tension. Do some yoga, listen to upbeat music, and let yourself move to the beat. 

One of my favorite ways to decompress is with simple yoga flow videos on YouTube.

2. Get enough rest.

Eight hours is the average amount of sleep most people need. Some need more, others need less. Sleep as much as your body is asking for, without going overboard or becoming lethargic. 

Take a restful nap in the afternoon, if you can. A little siesta is good for the brokenhearted soul. It can help you forget about your depression for a while and give your mind a break.

For me, napping is the best reset I’ve ever known.

3. Exercise.

You might not feel like walking or getting out of bed, but do it anyway.

I just got back from the gym to work on this article, and feel like I'm floating on a cloud after a few miles on the treadmill. I didn’t want to go, but I went anyway. My body appreciated the adrenaline boost. It felt great!

A little sweat is good for you. You don’t have to go from couch potato to mud runner in an instant. Gradually get into the habit of doing a little exercise every day.

Do five jumping jacks, go on a short walk, or do three sit-ups — whatever you can muster is an excellent place to begin.

If you want to feel good fast, exercise helps.

4. Try natural and herbal supplements.

Essential oils have been known to help with depression. When you put oils in a diffuser, these oils go straight to your brain, and trigger good feelings.

The Review of Clinical and Functional Neuroscience says that the limbic system surveys the senses and registers pain, pleasure, safety, or danger.

Smells can trigger emotions. The smell of baking bread might remind you of your grandmother. Or the smell of your ex's cologne could trigger you negatively.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Scent trigger memories and emotions — good and bad — so you can begin by creating new, positive feelings and memories with good smells. Bring on the good vibes!

Wearing essential oils also has excellent benefits — and people will always wonder why you smell so naturally wonderful!

For example, bergamot is known as an anti-depressant because it's stimulating, improves blood circulation, and brings feelings of joy.

There's also a study that found lavender to be a mood stabilizer and sedative. The University of Maryland Medical Center found that lavender helps with anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Another study shows lavender helps with PTSD. ​

You can use lavender in a bath or with fractionated coconut oil for massage.

Ylang-Ylang is also known to decrease blood pressure, increase feelings of calm, and enhance profound relaxation.

5. Get support from friends and other people who "get it."

Having a good support network of friends and family will help you get through depression.

Get out there and be social. It will do you good. Have a luncheon, meet for coffee, or go for an evening walk with an old or new friend.

You can also join some divorce support groups.

Even if you feel scared to ask for help, be brave. It’s good to get support.

Depression after a breakup can go on for much longer if undiagnosed.

If you’re not doing anything about your depression, it can interfere with work and your friendships. It can be so tricky that you can’t even get out of bed.

I was in my bed for months and I never want to go back to feeling like that again. And healing feels incredible, I tell you! I want you to get there, too!

Overcoming depression might be slow, but it's worth it.

Baby steps will get you to a better place. And having good support makes it so much easier.

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.

RELATED: This Is How Long It Takes To Get Over A Broken Heart, Says Study

Dina Colada is an author, direct response copywriter, and love coach whose work has appeared on sites like Prevention, Psych Central, MSN, and Women's Health. She specializes in helping single women navigate the modern world of online dating heartbreak help and wants to invite you to the best breakup support group for women. And you’re invited to join

This article was originally published at How To Heal Your Heart. Reprinted with permission from the author.