7 Ways to Deal With Depression After a Breakup
Eating chocolate, taking a bubble bath, and finding online dating apps like Tinder aren’t on this list of tips for dealing with depression. When you’re getting over a breakup, you need more.
“I feel depressed because my relationship ended eight months ago and we were together for five years,” says Riata on How to Get Over Depression. “Sometimes I want to cry for no reason, and I think about where our relationship could be if we were together. He’s in a new relationship now and moved on but I’m worried that I could never move on. I’ve been dealing with depression since I was a teenager but I never knew getting over a breakup was this hard. He was the love of my life. I want to let the past go, but it’s so difficult. I just need advice on how to manage my emotions and feelings in order to look forward to the future.”
Before you read over my seven tips for dealing with depression after a breakup, stop and think about your history. Have you struggled with depressed feelings in the past? Did you talk to a doctor or counselor, and was it helpful? You need to pay attention to the signals your body is sending you. If you’ve struggled with depression in the past, you’ll find that getting over a breakup isn’t as easy as eating a carton of chocolate cookie dough ice cream or joining Tinder! These suggestions for dealing with depressed feelings will help you cope.
7 Ways to Deal With Depression After a Breakup
How you deal with depressed feelings depends on your body, mind, and soul. That’s why my first tip is about listening to the still small voice inside of you, and my last tip is about dealing with depression in ways that honor your body.
1. Listen to what your body is telling you
Do you feel sluggish, tired, weak, and drained? If you are physically low, then you need to take care of your physical body. Dealing with depression isn’t just about your emotions; it’s about how much sleep you’re getting, what types of food you’re eating, and how much exercise you’re doing.
A couple summers ago, I was so sad. I didn’t just have “the blues” – I was seriously bummed out. I wasn’t sure if I was dealing with depression (and I definitely wasn’t getting over a breakup), but I could barely get out of bed. I saw my doctor and she sent me for a blood test.
I found out that the cause of my “depression” was anemia, which is simply low levels of iron in my blood. My body was telling me that it needed better food, more iron, and more nutrients. I ignored what my body was telling me because I thought I’d get over it. But it took a trip to the doctor, a blood test, and a couple months of iron supplements before I felt good again.
What is your body telling you? If you know your physical body is fine, read Help Getting Over a Breakup – How to Change Your Story. Changing your narrative is one of the best tips for both dealing with depression and getting over a breakup.
2. Force yourself to do what you love
I love to play my flute, yet I find myself making excuses not to play. I love doing yoga, yet I have to force myself to go to class.
What do you love to do? When you’re dealing with depression after breaking up, you probably don’t have the time or energy to do it — even though you love it! “I love to shop after a bad relationship,” says comedienne Rita Rudner. “I don’t know why but I buy a new outfit and it makes me feel better. It just does. Sometimes when I see a really great outfit, I’ll break up with someone on purpose.”
I hesitated to include shopping in this tip for dealing with depression because I don’t want to encourage you to spend lots of money to feel good, but I thought Rita’s quip was funny 🙂
Make a list of HEALTHY things you love to do. On my list is painting, playing my flute, running, listening to Joyce Meyers podcasts, traveling, eating hot buttered popcorn, blogging, and writing letters to God. I also love going to the library and filling a book bag with a variety of magazines, novels, nonfiction books, and DVDs – all for free! What do you love to do? Now is the time – when you’re healing after a bad breakup – that you need to force yourself to do those things.
3. Be open to trying different tips for dealing with depression
If you’ve experienced depressed feelings in the past, you may already know if your body responds to “talk therapy”, antidepressants, light therapy, or even a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and prescription medication.
But you may not know about the newer methods of dealing with depression. For instance, a new psychological treatment is called Concreteness training” and research shows that it can reduce depression in just two months. The research is described in the University of Exeter’s Training in ‘concrete thinking’ can be self-help treatment for depression press release; the doctors say Concreteness Training could work as a self-help therapy for depression in primary care.
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I won’t describe the details on this method of dealing with depression – you can click the link above for the full research study – but I can tell you how it applies to getting over a breakup. The premise is that people suffering from depressed feelings have a tendency towards unhelpful abstract thinking and over-general negative thoughts. For instance, you probably made mistakes in your relationship (we all do). Maybe you accidentally hurting your ex’s feelings or you ignored the signs he doesn’t love you.
If you’re depressed, you may extrapolate and believe these mistakes means that you are bad at all relationships. You may think you’re not worthy of love, or that you don’t know how to build a healthy relationship with a man. These treatment for depression – Concreteness Training – directly targets this tendency. If you train yourself, you can shift your thinking style.
4. Be aware of your thoughts and stories
The above tip for dealing with depression when you’re getting over a breakup makes you more conscious of what you’re thinking. This is a HUGELY important way to feel better when your heart is broken! Why? Because if you become aware of the story you’re telling yourself (eg, “I’ll never be loved again”), you can change that story (“He wasn’t the man for me, but someone else is.”).
When you find yourself spiraling downward into lonely and sad feelings of despair, stop for a moment. Ask yourself what your thoughts and stories are. What are you specifically thinking about? Are you drowning in vague, abstract thoughts of not being good enough for a relationship? When you’re getting over a breakup, you need to keep it in perspective. Learn how to reduce the amount of worrying and brooding you do by becoming aware of your thought pattterns.
5. Learn the difference between grieving and wallowing
Yes, you need to grieve the end of a relationship. When you’re getting over a breakup, the first few months are the worst. Allow yourself to grieve your loss, but don’t let yourself wallow in depression. Grieving a breakup involves crying or expressing your feelings in writing, painting, creative dance, etc for some amount of time each day.
Wallowing is talking about the breakup endlessly, obsessing about it, and refusing to think beyond your current feelings. Wallowing is asking for advice and help getting over a breakup, when you already know that you just need to give yourself time to heal.
No more wallowing, my friend. Grieve. And start the process of moving on.
6. Learn how “self-soothing” helps you deal with depression
I found this term in a book about eating disorders, and it’s great advice for getting over a breakup. This tip for dealing with depression is similar to my “do what you love” tip, but it’s more nurturing.
What soothes you? Lowering myself into a warm bubble bath in low light with a good book is a healthy way to soothe my body and soul. An unhealthy way to soothe myself was binging and purging (bulimia). When you’re dealing with depression and getting over a breakup, learn the difference between unhealthy and healthy ways of soothing yourself. Avoid unhealthy habits such as spending too much money, overeating, or harming yourself. Self-soothing strategies come from inside yourself – not outside, like shopping, drinking, or gambling.
An example of self-soothing is to call someone who loves you, or spend time petting your dog or cat. Take a nap. Eat chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. Look at your old family albums. Write about memories you love dwelling on; recall moments you were happy and proud of yourself.
7. Write about how you’re getting over the breakup
When was the last time you wrote in your journal? Here are a few questions to answer in your own private notebook:
- What do you miss most about your ex?
- What do you miss least about him or the relationship?
- How do you know the difference between healthy grieving when a relationship ends, versus dealing with depression that is more serious?
- Finish this sentence: “I haven’t seen a counselor about dealing with depression or getting over a breakup because….”
- And this one: “My faith in God has helped me get over other sad events in my life by…..”
Oh, why do I always leave God to the end? My purpose in life is to serve Him! I am eternally, deeply, profoundly grateful for His love and grace, His freedom and joy. And yet I always neglect to mention Jesus until the end of my articles.
Cling to your God, for He loves you and would move Heaven and Earth for you. Give Him your heartache and pain, and let His joy and peace wash away your grief.
Learn how to blossom after a breakup
One final tip for dealing with depression: read my ebook How to Blossom After a Breakup. It’s a guidebook to help women rediscover who they are and light up their lives! It’s not for women who are dealing with serious depression – it’s about rebuilding and blossoming while getting over a breakup.
Take this breakup as an opportunity to figure out who you are. Many women lose their personal identities in relationships; now, you have a chance to get back in touch with your authentic self.
What do you want out of life, who do you want to be, where do you want to go? You’re now free to answer all those questions; this breakup could open all sorts of doors for you.
I welcome your thoughts on dealing with depression when you’re getting over a breakup below. I can’t offer advice, but I know that writing can help you sort through your feelings and clarify your thoughts. And, sharing your experience will help you feel like you’re not alone.