Can Unrequited Love Lead to Depression?

This blog post will answer the question, “Can unrequited love lead to depression?” and cover topics like what is unrequited love, signs of unrequited love, phases of unrequited love, side effects, and how to deal with depression from unrequited love. 

Can Unrequited Love lead to Depression?

Yes, unrequited love can lead to depression as it can lead to feelings of being alone, rejected, and not worthy of love.

Unrequited love has been a theme for various books, songs, movies, TV shows, etc. 

‘Unrequited love’ is a poetic term for one-sided love that many of us have experienced at least once in our lives.

No matter how much the movies, songs, and books romanticize this concept in reality it always feels like unanswered love letters and a heart littered with paper cuts. If we continue to chase unrequited love, in the end, the person we end up hurting the most is ourselves and also become depressed or develop other mental health issues. 

What is Unrequited love?

Unrequited love refers to the one-sided love or feelings of affection for someone who does not really reciprocate those affectionate feelings because they are not quite aware of the other person’s feelings or they reject the other person’s love completely. 

Signs of unrequited love

  • You are never their priority

You keep this person on a pedestal. You’re always the one texting first, calling them, or making hangout plans. They will keep delaying the plans until the last minute and will barely put in any effort.

  • Going in denial

Sometimes ignorance is not bliss. There may be signs where it is clearly communicated by the person that they are just not into you but you try to turn a blind eye towards these hints. You might misinterpret their affection as a friend to love and cause a lot of confusion for yourself.

  • The cycle of negative emotions

When you give your heart on a plate to someone and they just return it saying they aren’t hungry, something inside you just breaks. The feeling of rejection accompanies feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and depression.

  • They’re always on your mind

This person does not only occupies your heart but also your brain. In some cases, the longing of being with them can increase to such an extent that it may start to interfere with your daily activities. 

For example, instead of completing your assignments, you’ll be more focused on stalking their Instagram account or obsessing over the fact why they haven’t replied to your texts.

  • You crave the intimacy

If you have experienced instances where you try to hold their hand and they shrug it off and you feel that you are always the one initiating the physical connection, it can signal that this is a one-sided attraction. In a healthy relationship, both partners equally desire physical intimacy and want to connect at a physical level.

  • No interest is shown from the other side

A lot of people feel that unrequited love is like being on different pages, however, it is more like reading different books. You have a perfect version of this individual in your head and want to form a deeper connection with them. 

But they barely even want to hang out with you. This difference is also seen in the emotional availability of the person. While you want to know about their values, attitudes, and beliefs, they would almost never take interest in yours.


Phases of unrequited love

  • Before a relationship

In this case, the person you love is single so everyone thinks that you can just ask them out. 

However, the fear of rejection stops you from doing so. You’d rather have them as your friend than not have them at all. So you try to gulp your feelings down your throat and forget them, but a part of you still hopes for something more.

  • During a relationship

It is possible that the person you’re in a relationship with doesn’t love you as much as you love them. In such cases, you will feel that your expectations and efforts are not being reciprocated. It will take a toll on your self-worth and self-esteem.

  • After a relationship

The hardest pill to swallow after a breakup is the thought of your ex being happy without you. This sometimes leads to frustration attraction, wherein you feel more passion towards the other person because you’ve been rejected. 

Unrequited love manifests itself in the thought of you two getting back together.

What are the side effects of unrequited love?

When you make someone the center of your world and realize that you are not even a part f theirs, it hurts a lot. A study conducted by Ethan Kross et al. in 2011, showed that experiencing rejection and physical pain activates the same areas in the brain. 

The feeling of sadness can at times become so prolonged that it can lead to depression. The behaviors may include shutting yourself off, not leaving bed for days, continuously obsessing over them, not taking care of your physical and mental health, etc. 

In some cases, the person may also succumb to substance abuse. Alcohol, smoking, and drugs may provide temporary relief but can soon become an addiction. It deteriorates the physical and mental health of the person and worsens the situation.

How to deal with depression from unrequited love?

In starting it may feel like this hurt will never end but with time and effort you can start your healing journey. Unrequited love is a learning experience, that can teach you more about your own feelings, what you want in a person and relationship, and how can you work on yourself to become a secure and healthy partner in the relationship.

  • Take time to grieve

Grief is all the love you were not able to give to a person. It is natural to question your self-worth when you are emotionally invested in someone and they just don’t feel the same way. 

You cannot just shove these feelings into a corner and pretend like nothing ever happened. The only way to move forward is to acknowledge your feelings, sit with them no matter how difficult it is and keep reminding yourself that you’re not alone.

  • Love yourself

The feeling that “ I am not enough” creeps in when your love isn’t reciprocated. You need to understand that your worth is defined by you and not by another person. 

You don’t need someone to complete you. When you will fully love yourself and accept your imperfections, you will realize that you’ve always been enough and you always will be.

  • Try to recognize your pattern

Introspect and ask yourself a very important question, “Do I often fall for people who don’t love me back?”. For some individuals, unrequited love becomes a pattern. When your needs as a child are not you tend to develop an insecure attachment style. 

You try to find people who will fill up the void in your life caused by the absence of authority figures such as your parents. However, unconsciously you end up with people who instead of breaking this pattern, just repeat it. 

This confirms your self held belief that you’re unlovable and not worthy of any kind of love and affection. Only by recognizing this pattern, you can break it.

  • Open up to people you love

Share your thoughts at feelings with people you trust. It may be difficult at first because you may feel ashamed talking about the experiences of your unrequited love. However, once you talk about it you’ll realize how many people share the same experience as you. This will help you provide comfort and will ease your pain.

  • Seek professional help

Never ever hesitate to approach a therapist for any of your problems. They can provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and unconditional positive regard when you talk about your feelings. The absence of these adaptive mechanisms can increase your chances of engaging in self-destructive behaviors. You are also likely to build walls around your heart that can prevent you from the opportunity of meeting the right person.

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.

  • Creativity

Broken hearts create the best art. Instead of wasting your time wondering why someone doesn’t love you back, you can utilize it to do things you love. Dancing, reading, writing, singing, you can do anything that resonates with you. 

Your emotions are very powerful and if used in the right manner, they can do wonders. They got you in this situation so they can also get you out of it. Instead of ignoring them, just provide yourself with an outlet for self-expression.


Moving on from unrequited love maybe be a difficult thing to do but it’s not impossible. With the steps mentioned above, you can try to start your healing journey. If you feel that you’re struggling with depression then you should surely seek professional help without feeling ashamed. Just remember that the path of healing may be long but the destination of self-growth is always worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can Unrequited Love Lead to Depression? 

Can unrequited love ever become requited?

Yes, there is a possibility for unrequited love to become required. The person may develop feelings for you over time. However, there is no guarantee or time frame within which it would happen. So ultimately, the choice is yours on whether you want to wait for that person or move on with your life.


What can unrequited love do to a person?

Unrequited love can emotionally wound a person. The task of letting go of the idea of spending the rest of your life with someone you love is extremely painful. It can entice feelings of self-doubt.

How long does it take to move on from unrequited love?

While there is no fixed time schedule for moving on, Burns claims that it takes a minimum of three months to reach a neutral place. The time period may vary according to the time duration you’ve been in love and the efforts you put in to move forward with your life.


Why do we hold on to unrequited love?

We love this person so much that our heart just refuses to believe that it’s over. We cling on to the thin threads of hope. Our minds create an illusion that tries to convince us that we are meant to be with this person.

What is the purpose of unrequited love?

While unrequited is one of the most painful experiences to go through, it does help you to grow as an individual. It helps you to recognize your needs, patterns, strengths, and shortcoming and prepares you for better things in the future.

How do I get over unrequited love causing anxiety?

You can get over unrequited love by consulting with a psychotherapist and they can help you with anxiety and other mental health issues that you must be going through in your life. 


Raypole (2019). Dealing with unrequited love.

Bloom (2020). Have you broken your own heart?

Clarke (2020). What is Unrequited love?

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