Picking yourself up after ending a relationship can be a difficult, lengthy process, but knowing how to overcome depression after a break up will help you get on with your life and become stronger for it.
The first thing to remember is that depression following a break up is perfectly normal. After devoting months or years of your life to a person, it is natural to feel grief at the loss of that person in your life. This sadness is, in itself, not a problem. But if the sorrow persists, or if it interferes in your ability to function in other areas of your life, then it becomes more than just sadness; it begins to enter depression territory.
Addressing the powerlessness that we feel following a break up is a great first step in overcoming that depression. It is important to regain a sense of agency—that is, the ability to act in your own interests and to be your own person—as soon as possible. We often identify ourselves by the people in our lives, and breaking up with a significant other can cause us to question who we are. Taking back control of how you define yourself will help stem some of the depression of losing who you thought you were.
Some things you can do to regain your sense of self include:
- Get back in touch with old friends. They can remind you of who you were and how you have grown.
- Take up a hobby. Find something you always wanted to know how to do and learn how to do it.
- Take some time just for you. Go to a spa, a movie, a ball game, a concert. Enjoy the time alone as a way of getting back in touch with yourself.
- Be active. Keep moving. Play a sport (with others or by yourself). Exercise and activity have been shown to lessen depression symptoms across the board, and can make you feel more confident and energetic.
One thing you should NOT do if you're feeling depressed after a break up is jump right back into a relationship. Flirting and casual dating can be okay, but anything that might become serious runs the risk of interfering with your own emotional healing, especially if the relationship that just ended was a lengthy one. The rebound fling has become such a cliche because it is a tempting thing to do, but this can easily perpetuate the idea that your only value lies in who your date, which in turn perpetuates your depression.
Finally, if you do not start feeling better or still don't know how to overcome depression after a break up, don't be afraid to seek professional help. Relationships are one of the most common causes of psychological stress in our society, and therapists are very familiar with the depression break ups can cause. It can be embarrassing, but they've really seen it all before.
Breaking up, as the song goes, is hard to do. We are social animals and seek comfort and validation in others. But ending a relationship doesn't have to be crippling. It can give you the insight and confidence to become a stronger, more aware individual.
This article was originally published on PsyWeb.com.