Breakups and depression(+5 tips)

In this article it will be discussed if a breakup can cause depression and if so, how long does it go on. It will also tackle how it feels to end a relationship, how to deal with the heartbreak and grieving process that comes with it. Why one break up feels different from the other and how to gain back control of your life and emotions.

How does it feel to go through a break-up?

Breakups are always an intense moment in a person’s life. When a relationship ends, a lot of plans that were made won’t come true, people can keep looking for answers of what went wrong and what could be done differently so the relationship would last, ending a relationship can affect your social and financial situation as well, so it is safe to say that going through it can have a huge impact in someone’s life.

When faced with a breakup, even though people can react in different ways, everyone will have to go through learning, yet again, how to live life without that loved one that, for the longest time, you might have thought you would share your life with. 

With that in mind, it is safe to say that a breakup feels a lot like dealing with someone’s death, because, at that moment, something is dying. The identity a person had, as part of this particular couple, is gone. 

So to deal with that, people usually go through the 5 stages of grief that were established by Klubber-Ross in 1969. Those stages are:


It’s the first reaction a person experiences when a bond is broken. At this first moment, a person might believe that what happened is not true. This is a way the brain protects itself from stressful events.


When it is not possible to deny the break up anymore, the person feels frustrated, irritated, and angry, at this period questions of “why me?” may surge.


This phase is a moment when the person believes they can change what caused the relationship to end. In this stage, people might try to plead or seek compromise so the relationship can restart.


At this stage, there is a sense of hopelessness when faced with the end of the relationship. It isn’t necessarily depression, but mostly it can feel like nothing else is interesting, there is a feeling of “why bother” with any new life events.


In this last stage, the person accepts the break-up, can rearrange the life without the former lover, and finally expects good things out of life.

Does everyone that goes through a breakup get depressed?

Not necessarily everyone that does through a break-up develops depression. In research done by Verhallen and Renken in 2019 people going through heartbreak are more likely to develop depression than people who are in relationships.

In the same study, the authors also discovered that some factors can make it easier for a heartbroken person to get depressed. Those factors were: the sudden loss, meaning that the person wasn’t expecting what happened.

The lack of positive affect, which says that after the heartbreak the person was left without a feeling of hope or other positive emotions, was also pointed as a factor. They also discovered that, even though women and men can develop depression after a heartbreak, women going through it had higher depression scores than male participants.

In the review article made by Field in 2017, it was shown what are things that can prevent a person from getting depressed when going through a breakup. Those things are social support, higher self-esteem, good coping strategies, the ability to forgive, finding a new partner, sports, music, and a secure attachment style.

How long does depression last after a break-up?

It is hard to put a timetable on depression, what is possible to say is that when dealing with a breakup, during the first few weeks or a couple of months, people will go through an adjustment period, when it is important to open yourself for the feelings that might emerge. 

Crying, lack of purpose, hopelessness are all feelings that can appear at the moment, what is important is to understand that this is a period in time, a person won’t be like this forever. 

If the intensity of these feelings is still high after a couple of months, it might be that the person is experiencing not only an adjustment period, but depression, and with that, it is essential to search for professional health.

Although it is hard for a person going through depression to try and do the smallest things, there are some things one can do to help them deal with the feelings brought on by a breakup, here we will give a 5 topic guideline as to how you can begin to mend the broken heart.

  • Do activities that bring joy
  • Move your body
  • Lean on people you trust
  • Talk it out

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Do activities that bring joy

An important part to getting back to life after a break is by doing things that bring joy, connect with close ones, do activities that might speak to you, it might be something that wasn’t part of your life during the time of the relationship, so it would be a good idea to get in touch with your individuality and people that give support. 

Just remember that depression doesn’t go away from one moment to the other, but having little moments of joy, or even distraction, can go a long way.

Move your body

Depression changes the chemical balance of the brain, but so does exercising. Even though it may be hard to start, it is of great help if one can do a small amount of exercise a day. 

Even if it happens to be just a little walk, when moving the body a rush of endorphins can go through the brain and that, along with the sense of accomplishment, can make a person going through depression feel a little better.

Lean on people you trust

During a hard break up people tend to self-isolate but it is in that moment that being close to people who comfort and cherish you can be of great help. Being surrounded by loved ones can change the focus of the moment, make a person stop, at least for a little, thinking about the break-up, it may also help to focus on other things and bonds you have in your life besides the relationship that ended.

Talk it out

Although when going through a breakup people would want to avoid their former partner as much as they could, sometimes, when haunted by questions and doubts about what went wrong in the relationship can make a person feel worse. It doesn’t allow them to move on and keep them trapped on what was or could have been. In that case, maybe a talk with the former partner, to clear the air, can give a sense of closure.

Talk about how you are doing

Another aspect of opening yourself up to people you trust is talking to them about how you are doing. This gives the possibility of sharing your feelings, letting it out thoughts you wouldn’t share with anyone, and maybe releasing yourself from thoughts and feelings you’ve been ruminating about.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ): How long does depression last after a break-up?

How to deal with heartbreak when you still love the person?

All breakups are hard, but one that happens when one of them is still in love can be brutal. When this happens, it might be important to cut all communication as a way of taking time and distance for it all, this will help to put an end to it.If the communication continues, it is easy to start thinking getting back together might be on the horizon. 

Once that happened, it is important to let go, forgive what was and try to understand that, even though now only the positive aspects of the relationship come to mind, this is all part of a fantasy, there were good and bad things in this and all relationships, and that it is okay to still love your ex, but that you broke up for a reason, be it because you don’t deserve to be left with leftovers or because the relationship reached its natural end.

How to let go of my ex?

It is important to decide if the person wants to let go, once that was decided, it might be important to cut contact and turn to people you love to support. It is a moment to make yourself the priority and trace a new route in life and that, although hard até first, can be exciting.

Is it possible to turn an ex into a friend?

It is always possible to be friends with an ex, but for that to happen it is important to know that both parties don’t nurture romantic feelings for the other and that being close doesn’t hurt either of them because boundaries are set and clear.

How can my ex move on so fast?

When an ex moves on, one might question their self-worth, but it is important to understand that a person moves on in their time. It could mean that inside the partner the relationship was over before it was formally over or sometimes it can just mean that they can’t stand being alone. 

Remember that someone starting a new relationship is not something that evaluates your worth.

What is a rebound relationship?

A rebound relationship happens quickly after a break-up, in that, the person usually wants to find the same feelings they had on the relationship that ended, because that, they tend to be short relationships that are divided into 5 stages:


When the person feels ready to meet other people but not necessarily enter a long-term relationship, they might meet new people and feel attracted to them. The person might look for someone that has similar qualities as you, that you feel comfortable with.

 At this moment people are looking to see themselves through this new person’s eyes.


In this period, the person starts exploring new feelings and sensations with the new person. It is a moment when people ask themselves why were they investing so much in a relationship that didn’t last when there is so much more to be seen.

Show off

It is the moment to let people know about the new partner. It is about showing how desired, happy, and capable of having a new partner the person is.


At this point, comparisons between the old and new partners arise. And because in the first relationship there was a deep emotional connection and a lot the person hasn’t gotten over, the rush of the new relationship starts to fade.


It is when the person realizes that the glow of the new relationship is over, it isn’t what it promised to be, there are still unresolved feelings from the former relationship, so it is better to be alone for a while to deal with those.


In this article it was discussed that a breakup can make a person depressed, aside from that, the article shows how each relationship is different and, because of that, everyone reacts in their singular way when facing a break-up. 

It was made clear that the end of a relationship is always an important thing, it generates feelings of loss and grief similar to when you lose someone that died and because of that one should find compassionate and caring spaces to heal.

It was discussed how men and women deal with breakups and strategies to help in the healing process and move on.

If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to write your query in the section below.


Verhallen A, Renken RJ, Horst GJ. Romantic relationship breakup: An experimental model to study effects of stress on depression (-like) symptoms.PLoS One. 2019; 14(5): e0217320.

Kübler-Ross E (1969). On Death and Dying. Routledge.

Field T. Romantic breakup distress, betrayal and heartbreak: a review. Int J Behav Res Psychol. 2017;5(2):217-225

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