8 Easy Ways To Reclaim Your Life When A Breakup Changed You For The Worse

Eight easy ways to start moving on and reclaim who you want to be.

Last updated on Mar 19, 2024

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Can a breakup affect your mental health? 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. For many people, breakups can make you feel like a totally different person.

Sure, some people can brush off a breakup and move on quickly. Other people are simply devastated. Neither is right or wrong, but it sure can feel like we're wrong for feeling this bad. We miss who we were.


The breakup struggle is genuine, painful, and confusing. Breakups can make you feel like a different person by bringing up up all kinds of insecurities and terrible thoughts about yourself: guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety to name just a few.

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

Here's what to do when you feel like a breakup changed you for the worse 

1. Know 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 the 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.


2. Recognize the 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.

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 to adjust 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.

3. Understand grief and sadness are 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.



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

4. 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.

5. 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.


6. 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.

7. 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 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. Scent triggers 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 stress. ​You can use lavender in a bath or with fractionated coconut oil for bodywork. Ylang-Ylang is also known to decrease blood pressure, increase feelings of calm, and enhance profound relaxation.

friends celebrate

Photo: Josep Suria via Shutterstock

8. 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. Small 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, According To Research

Dina Colada is an author, speaker, and dating coach who specializes in helping single women navigate the modern world of online dating. Her work has appeared on sites like Prevention, MSN, Women’s Health, Plenty of Fish, and Zoosk