Overview of Breakup Depression

Breaking up can have a serious impact on your health. The end of a relationship will not only lead to major changes in financial and living conditions, but a breakup will also cause a lot of emotional turmoil. Some splits are easier than others. You may be able to let go and move on quickly. In other situations, you may feel angry, sad, painful, anxious, and heartbroken.


After a romantic breakup, all of these emotions may be completely normal-but if they cause long-term sadness and indifference, it may indicate that something more serious is happening. Stressful life events, such as a breakup or divorce, can sometimes cause long-term and severe emotional distress.

A study found that even a normal emotional state after a breakup is very similar to clinical depression.

Experiencing depression and other symptoms after a relationship is over is sometimes diagnosed as an adjustment disorder of low mood, sometimes referred to as situational depression. Because these feelings of adjustment disorder can last from six months to two years, it is important to understand the symptoms and signs so that you can seek help and support when you need it.


After a breakup, feelings of sadness can range from mild to severe. Sometimes these feelings will be strong in a relatively short period of time. In other cases, people may feel a milder sense of sadness, and it will last longer.

Because the emotional responses to a breakup are so varied, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether your feelings are a natural response to the end of a relationship or something more serious. More serious symptoms that may indicate depression include:

  • Feelings of despair or helplessness
  • Weight loss or gain; changes in appetite
  • Sleep too much or too little
  • Loss of fun and interest
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling sad, empty or worthless
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Listless
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Grief and grief are normal reactions after stressful life events. Research has found that breaking up can affect people in many profound ways.After a relationship ends, people report experiences such as pain, loneliness, and loss of self-esteem.

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Give yourself time to grieve for losing this relationship. Healthy responses include a period of sadness, crying, depression, and regret. This is a period of adjustment, so you need to give yourself some time to cope and recover before you can move on. Although upset, these feelings usually diminish over time as you recover from the breakup.

If your symptoms seem to be worse than normal sadness after the breakup, or your symptoms seem to be getting worse, tell your doctor how you feel.


As a form of situational depression, the end of the relationship is what triggers these feelings. A breakup can be a moment of major changes in a person’s life. This not only means no longer interacting with the people you once loved, but it can also lead to a series of life changes.

Mutual friends may choose both parties, which may lead to the end of other relationships. You may need to adjust your financial situation, living conditions, or even cope with the challenges of raising children with your ex.

Breaking up will also affect how you see yourself.

A study found that the end of a romantic relationship affects college students’ perceptions of their academic performance, including their ability to concentrate, homework, and test scores.

Another study found that not only breaking up will change their self-concept, but people whose self-image is more damaged are also more likely to experience more emotional distress after breaking up.

All these adjustments are challenging. They can make you feel confused, insecure, anxious and sad. In some cases, it may cause more severe and longer-lasting depression symptoms.


Breakup depression is not a true medical term or diagnosis, but it does not mean that how you feel after a breakup does not represent the real situation. Once you decide to discuss this with your doctor or mental health professional, they will ask you some questions about your symptoms.

You need to explain the symptoms you are experiencing, when they appear, and how severe they are.

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Based on your symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with an adjustment disorder of low mood (sometimes called situational depression). Adaptation disorder is what can happen when you experience significant pain or dysfunction after a stressful life event.

To diagnose this condition based on DSM-5, you must:

  • Symptoms begin to appear within three months of recognizable stress (in this case, a breakup)
  • Symptoms are not proportional to the severity of the trauma, and take into account other factors in life that may affect symptoms
  • Is it a symptom caused by another mental disorder


The good news is that even if you do experience depressive symptoms caused by a breakup, they usually start to get better on their own six months after the event.Over time, your condition improves and you start to recover from the breakup. In most cases, you will find yourself gradually feeling better.

If your symptoms are mild to moderate, you may be able to cope with it yourself through good self-care and a strong support system.

If your symptoms are more severe, or you just feel that you need some extra help to cope, please consult your doctor or therapist. Counseling can help you gain perspectives, resolve negative thinking patterns, and build coping skills, which may help you now and in the future.

If your symptoms are severe or do not seem to improve, your doctor may also prescribe medications, such as antidepressants that can help.


Whether you have normal grief after a breakup or something more serious, once the relationship is over, there are things you can do to make it easier for you to cope. Although it is impossible to predict who will experience breakup depression, there are steps you can take to help yourself be more resilient to stressful events.

Some things you can do include:

  • Form a strong social support network, including online networks
  • Take care of yourself and your health
  • Learn problem-solving skills
  • Work hard to improve self-esteem
  • Set work goals
  • Take steps to solve your problem
  • Find a sense of purpose in your life
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Research also shows that writing down your feelings or positive experiences can improve your ability to cope after a traumatic event.

Finding ways to stay busy is also helpful. Although you may fall into contemplation, doing things that keep your mind and body busy can save you from contemplating negative thoughts. Try to dig a new project around the house, or start a new hobby that you have always wanted to know.

Exercising and spending time with friends are also great ways to improve mood and cope with stress after a breakup. Research also shows that writing down your feelings or positive experiences can improve your ability to cope after a traumatic event.

Breaking up will interrupt your personal initiative and even challenge your self-concept. Focusing on the areas in your life where you have more control, such as your work or your hobbies, can help you regain control and make you feel more powerful.

Press Play for advice on dealing with grief

This episode of The VigorTip Mind podcast hosted by LCSW’s editor and therapist Amy Morin, starring best-selling author Helen Russell, shares how to accept and embrace sadness. Click below to listen now.

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The end of an intimate relationship may herald a change in your entire life. Sometimes these changes can be a good thing-it can lead to personal growth or a shift to a more supportive and loving relationship.

In some cases, they can cause lingering depression. Although it is normal to feel sad or even heartbroken for a period of time after a breakup, if your symptoms seem to be stronger or last longer than you usually expect, you should talk to a professional. Focus on taking care of yourself and seek support from friends and family. If your symptoms seem to be getting worse, please don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.