5 Ways to Avoid Depression After a Break-Up


The break-up of a relationship ranks as one of the most stressful life events- it’s up there with the death of a loved one.  After the initial shock, when you may feel like you were just hit by a truck, sadness and loneliness often take over.  You may feel “a part of you has died,” and your whole world has fallen apart. The ability to concentrate and get motivated may be hard to come across.  You may also find yourself remembering and missing things you used to do with your partner.


Brain research shows that rejection experiences in a break-up can activate the same areas of the brain that physical pain or distress do.  Especially in women, a break-up can cause cardiac pain and shortness of breath.  The pain is both emotional and physiological, which means it can be very intense

Recovering from a break-up is not easy and can lead to severe depression; lowered immune system response; and even health problems.

As you recover from your break-up, you need to take care of yourself.  The following tips might be helpful in that process.


  • Express yourself- share your feelings

One of the best ways to deal with the pain of a break-up is to share your feelings with friends or family- people you trust.  The simple process of identifying and talking about your feelings is very soothing.  Studies show that talking about negative feelings can reduce activity in the pain-feeling portion of the brain.  Talking to others not only feels good, but also releases opiates, which are natural “pain-killers,” and helps you process and manage the emotions generated by a break-up.

  • Give yourself time to grieve

Allow yourself to be sad about the loss of your relationship, rather than trying to rush into feeling well again.  People who refuse to face the pain of a break-up get involved in rebound relationships before working through the painful issues of the past relationship.  They tend to project their pain and desires onto their new partner, substituting their previous partner and not seeing the new person for who he/she really is.

Give yourself time to grieve- the process may be as painful as mourning the death of a loved one. Breaking up is a loss and the only way to come out of it healthy and with peace is to grieve properly.

  • Consider having a conversation with your ex-partner

You may be able to have a final discussion with your ex-partner to help you understand what caused the break-up and express any pent-up issues and feelings.  However, this may not be something your ex-partner is willing to do or it may be too painful for you to do.  In this case, research shows that having an imaginary conversation, where you express all your feelings and say goodbye, can help you move-on.

  • Sleep

Sleep is one of the best ways to deal with stress and avoid depression, yet it can be hindered by emotional distress.  The day’s residual pain, sadness, and anger can make it difficult to sleep well.  If you wake up too early, or can’t fall asleep, take notes in order to identify a recurring theme.  That will help you figure out how get stress and anger under control during the day.  Try keeping a regular sleep schedule- going to bed and waking up at the same time each day- you will feel more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times.  Create a relaxing bed-time routine.  Regular exercise and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation may also improve your sleep

  • Exercise

Working out, running, and even brisk walking release opiates, which can help you deal with stress. Studies show that cardiovascular exercise can be as effective in dealing with mild to moderate anxiety and depression as antidepressants.  So, get up and put your running shoes on!

It is natural to feel sad as you are grieving the end of your relationship.  Remember to allow yourself to experience and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are- it will allow you to move forward.  If you feel helpless, have low self-confidence, or think you are worse than you were, you may benefit from professional help to alleviate your feelings and avoid a deeper depression.

Don’t wait too long before intervening- when one door closes, you need to find the window that will allow you to go through and heal.