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How to Get Over Depression After a Breakup

By HERWriter
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Just get over him! Get into the dating scene. Throw his gifts away. Get involved in a new activity.

We’ve all heard virtually the same advice, and some if it can be helpful, but breakups suck no matter what.

Breakups from any type of relationship can cause sadness, grief or depression whether a woman initiates the breakup or not.

Susan Heitler, a clinical psychologist in Denver, Colo., says that there is a difference between grief and depression after a breakup.

“Grieving is the sadness that comes with any loss, but depression adds a level of powerlessness and negative thoughts,” Heitler said.

She said that powerlessness comes from feeling “that a breakup has been done to us, not that it was a mutual decision.”

Although it depends on how long you’ve been with the person and how deep the feeling of loss is, grieving over a lost relationship usually should last only a little over a week, she said.

After a week, if the woman is still getting “lots of negative self-thoughts,” it might be depression.

“If someone feels like there’s a negative dark cloud hanging over them, then they’ve shifted from grieving into depression,” Heitler said.

When there’s depression involved, it’s best to see a therapist or psychologist, but there are some actions you can do to ease some pain.

Heitler suggests trying to communicate with an ex-partner.

“To be able to say your own thoughts, to share your view, is empowering, so then it doesn’t feel like there’s something done to you, but rather like you’ve had input also,” she said.

When an ex is unwilling to talk over the phone or in-person, an e-mail or letter can help.

Although throwing out gifts and memories of an ex can be cliché, it can also help in certain cases.

“It’s a way to say, ‘Okay, I’m ending that era of my life and readying myself to go onto something new,’” Heitler said. “It gives you a feeling of, ‘I’m taking charge now, I’m in the driver’s seat.’ It’s not essential but it can be helpful.”

However, many people have the opposite reaction and want to keep everything and put it in a safe place.

“They want to take all the memories of that person and treasure them because that was a period of their lives and they can still move on,” Heitler said.

One thing to keep in mind is that thoughts of an ex can interfere with your life if you let them.

“Each time those thoughts come up, distract yourself,” Heitler said. “You can’t block them from coming up, but you can stop yourself from dwelling on that person. What you need to do is weaken the ties with them, so you don’t want to be dwelling on them because that reinforces the ties.”

One of the best ways to move on is to “build something new,” she said.

“Build new friendships, take on new activities, get a new puppy, take a trip,” Heitler said. “New is good.”

In a Psychology Today blog, the author suggested five ways to get over a breakup: sharing your feelings with others, meditate, sleep, exercise and have “imaginary conversations with the ex.”

A website, www.ahealthyme.com, which is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, said that taking care of yourself is important, including watching your diet and maintaining a normal energy level. Volunteering, taking a class or doing something creative (music, art, writing, etc.) can all help you improve yourself and meet new friends.

Heitler’s websites: www.Therapyhelp.com, www.Po2.com

Add a Comment25 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

A week to get over a lost relationship ? How deep is your ocean ?

July 3, 2010 - 6:46am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I agree. Dumbest and most clueless statement I have ever read.

February 6, 2015 - 10:31pm
EmpowHER Guest

I think it's a great idea to be active on most of these methods here, but one thing I have found from personal experience that really can make the depression sink to a new degree is the imaginary conversations. Sometimes you end up dwelling on what you both had at one time, the special laughs you used to share, etc. Be very careful with what you imagine in conversation. But, if you're too modest and stick with generics ("Hi, nice to see you. That is good. Ok goodbye.") you might be setting yourself up to feeling quite empty, feeling as though there should have been more to it than just that. Just my two cents for that department. The rest of the techniques seem to have far less negative possibilities.

June 29, 2010 - 3:15pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I always found that this helped me get over my ex http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-get-over-break-up.html

January 27, 2012 - 1:38pm
(reply to Anonymous)

I agree...the "imaginary conversations with ex" could spiral out of control if not used appropriately, or if used too frequently that it becomes something you dwell on.

The Psychology Today article said this about these imaginary conversations, and why they are beneficial:
"Airing pent-up issues and feelings [can] help let go and...move forward into a relationship with a terrific guy...".

"Similarly allowing yourself to be with and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are will also allow you to move beyond them and the guy who triggered it all."

This makes a little more sense, as long as it is used as a type of closure to vent frustrations, resentments and anger...to then "let it go" and move on to other friendships, activities and thoughts.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

June 29, 2010 - 8:00pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.