Relationship break ups can be emotionally debilitating. It is thought that men are more likely to suffer from depression after a break up. However, actual figures vary since men are much less likely to seek help for emotional problems.
Heartbreak depression is a recent term that has been made more popular at the end of 2009 by Alexa Ray Joel's "cry for help" overdose of homeopathic pills. Anybody who has experienced a bad emotional break up can relate to the term. Heartbreak depression is not a recognised clinical illness though.
So is it possible to suffer from depression after a break up?
Depression can be brought on by significant stress situations in your life. A break up or divorce is definitely a stressful time. Everyone has some feelings of sadness or down days, especially after a relationship break up.
Feeling down and depressed is part of the natural cycle of grieving. It becomes a problem when the feelings of sadness and depression start to interfere with your day-to-day life.
Depression is a medically recognised illness if you have feelings of extreme depression or despair that last over two weeks which interfere with your daily activities such as working, eating or sleeping.
Why does depression affect men after a break up more than women?
Depression affects men more because often there are additional stress triggers after a break up. Frequently men have restricted or no access to their children. They may have to move home and often the financial burden becomes excessive. Depression is often more likely and more severe in men who are going through a divorce.
How do men cope with depression after a break up?
In general, men do not cope with emotional problems very well. They often think of asking for help as a weakness that makes them less "manly". Instead of talking about how they feel and working through their emotions, often men will turn to alcohol or drugs to make them feel better. This inevitably makes the situation worse.
Men are far less likely to seek help for depression. When they do ask for help and advice, they tend to concentrate on physical symptoms rather than emotional issues. Often depression is not diagnosed early on because of this.
What are the symptoms of depression?
- Feeling down, depressed, or unhappy and unable to shake off the feelings for prolonged periods,
- Inability to concentrate,
- Feelings of despair and guilt, even about issues that have nothing to do with you,
- Unable to enjoy anything, particularly activities that you previously loved,
- Mood swings and irritability,
- Feelings of hopelessness and possibly thoughts of death.
- Sleep problems. You cannot sleep or often wake through the night,
- Extreme exhaustion - Feeling tired and needing to sleep even if you have had a full nights sleep the night before,
- Loss of interest in sex
- Appetite changes. Unable to eat or over eating,
- Weight fluctuations even when your appetite is normal.
- Loss of control,
- Sudden bouts of anger,
- Excessive risk taking.
Heartbreak depression may not be a recognised clinical term but it is possible to suffer from depression after a relationship break up. If you recognise any of the above listed symptoms, and have been suffering for more than two weeks, then seek help from your health care provider.
If you have thoughts of death or suicide, even if you are not planning to act on them, then do not wait. Seek help now.
It is not weak to ask for help. Be open and honest about how you feel, don't just discuss the physical symptoms. There are many therapies available and working with your healthcare provider you will find one to suit you. Do not give up - keep asking questions.
Depression after a relationship break up does not have to be emotionally crippling for long. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will get back in control of your emotions and your life.