How long does depression last after a break up?

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In this article we will discuss how long depression can last after a break up. 

We will also explore what affects how long depression lasts, what depression is, as well as how one can cope with post-break up depression. 

How long does depression last after a break up?

The time it takes for someone to heal after a break up and experience a noticeable decrease of depressed moods and hopelessness post a break-up can differ. 

According to a 2007 study on 155 college students that explored the experiences of how people go through the dissolution of a romantic relationship or a break up, the average time taken to move past negative experiences of the break up was around 11 weeks.

The study was conducted to explore the possible positive outcomes post a relationship in individuals who experienced a break up in the past 6 months since the date of the study. 

It was found that after approximately 11 weeks, individuals experience positive emotions and personal growth such as self-expansion, rediscovery of who they were as individuals, empowerment, and happiness especially when the relationship was a low quality relationship. 

According to the researchers, the positive results of the study suggested that since the breakups happened an average of 11 weeks for the participants, it could be implied that many people recover after about 11 weeks even without interventions of any kind.

The time it takes for an individual to feel better after a relationship depends on various factors some of these factors include:

  • The level of commitment of the relationship. If there has been more commitment, for example- divorce in the case of marriage- it might take longer for an individual to get over the break up. 
  • The circumstances surrounding the break up is also important especially if there is no sense of closure that has been pushed forward by the break. If the relationship had been an abusive one, and the break up was rash and sudden, it might take time for the individual to heal from the break up because of the trauma behind the break up.
  • It is also important to understand who breaks up with whom is also another factor where the individual who has been broken up with takes longer time to get over the break up. Being broken up with can be a sign of rejection that can be internalised by the individual making it harder for them to heal from the break up. 
  • Infidelity can lead to a traumatic experience of the break up especially to the individual who has been cheated on because of the added element of trust that has been broken this can lead to linger negative effects on one’s mental health as well as how one views the world and other people. 
  • Relationship quality- individuals whose relationship quality was fairly low tend to take a shorter amount of time to get over the relationship because people might feel more relieved to be out of the relationship than being part of a relationship that they are dissatisfied with. 

What is depression?

Depression according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is a  serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

People affected with depression also struggle with cognitive symptoms where they find it hard to think, focus, concentrate as well as find it hard to feel joy. 

They might also be overwhelmed with a feeling of hopelessness,guilt, worthlessness that affects the way they see themselves. 

Apart from these emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.

These symptoms should last more than two weeks and cause significant impairment or dysfunction to be diagnosed as clinical depression. 

What are the symptoms of Depression?

The Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed) DSM-V outlines the following symptoms to make a diagnosis of depression. 

These symptoms should indicate change from normal functioning. These symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities- activities that they loved doing.
  • Significant weight loss or gain, decrease or increase in appetite
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • Slow thinking or slowed down thoughts and movements
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt 
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation with or without a specific plan or a suicide attempt. 

These symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 

What can you do to cope with break- up depression?

Here are a few things that you can do to help you cope with the break up and the pain or depression caused by the break up:

Grieve. 

The best thing you can allow yourself to do after a break up is to give yourself grief. This will involve you taking effort to acknowledge your emotions and your feelings no matter how painful or vulnerable you might be feeling. 

You will also need to accept the loss of the relationship and the pain you’re feeling instead of pretending that you are unaffected. 

Take time out of your day to grieve, let yourself cry, get angry, and experience all the uncomfortable feelings that you are feeling without judgement- write about it if you want to, use art to express how you feel. 

Allow yourself to lie in bed all day to cry if that is what you need. Letting yourself grieve is a way to care for your own needs. 

Spend time with friends

Once you feel like you are up for it, take time to seek out support from your friends, family, and loved ones. 

Talk to them about how you are feeling, allow them to get distracted while doing fun things together. Let them provide you company when you do not want to be alone- take effort to reach out to them. 

Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships. 

Focus on self-care

When you are struggling with the break up. You might find it hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first. 

Attend to your emotional needs

Take to a professional if you think that you are not getting enough support and guidance from your friends and family. 

Meeting a professional to talk about your depression, grief, and loss of the relationship is something that you can give yourself as an act of self-love and self-care. 

Get in touch with a therapist or a psychologist and take effort to work with your emotions, grow towards self-acceptance, and move towards rebuilding yourself and your resilience. 

Conclusion

In this article we have discussed how long depression can last after a break up. 

We have also explored what affects how long depression lasts, what depression is, as well as how one can cope with post-break up depression. 

FAQ related to how long does depression last after a break-up

How long is it OK to be sad after a breakup?

Everyone takes different amounts of time to finally become emotionally okay after a break up but on average it will take close to two months to six months to heal from a relationship break up. 

So being sad for six to eight weeks, without any disruption to your day to day life, is an okay amount of time taken to grieve a relationship. 

How long does separation anxiety last after a breakup?

After a break up, anxiety related to the separation might take you six months to a year or a year and half to get better. Shorter even with the right amount of treatment and support. 

Is it normal to cry a week after a breakup?

It is definitely normal to cry even after a week since the break up since people process loss and grief in various ways however, it is a cause of concern if the crying is also accompanied with inability to meet your basic needs and take care of yourself and your responsibility for more than two weeks. 

How long does it take to get over someone?

It will take close to three months or so to get over someone or maybe even six months depending on the type of the relationship and the circumstances around it. If the relationship lasted for a long time and had deep eleves of commitment such as marriages, it might take a year or years to get over the person completely. 

Can you grieve over a breakup?

Yes, it’s possible to grieve a relationship as break ups do entail loss of another individual and the relationship as well as the hopes and plans that involved the relationship. This can lead many people to experience grief when the relationship ends. 

References

Gary W. Lewandowski Jr & Nicole M. Bizzoco (2007) Addition through subtraction: Growth following the dissolution of a low quality relationship, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2:1, 40-54, DOI: 10.1080/17439760601069234

Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel, Tamar Krishnamurti, George Loewenstein,

Mispredicting distress following romantic breakup: Revealing the time course of the affective forecasting error,Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,Volume 44, Issue 3,2008,Pages 800-807,ISSN 0022-1031, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2007.07.001.

Raypole.C. How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Breakup? It Depends. 29th January 2021. Retrieved on 11th January 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/relationships/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-over-a-breakup#estimates

Wiginton.K. Dealing With Depression After a Breakup. WebMD. Retrieved on 11th january 2022. https://www.webmd.com/depression/depression-after-breakup

Muinos.L. & Casabianca.S. Sad After a Breakup: Is It Depression or Grief? Psych Central. August 18, 2021. Retrieved on 11th January 2022. https://psychcentral.com/depression/depression-after-a-breakup

Kendra.C. An Overview of Breakup Depression. VerywellMind. Retrieved on 11th January 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/breakup-depression-4768558#toc-treatment.

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