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Overcoming Depression After Moving – The Psychology of Relocation

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When planning the big move, you certainly don’t imagine depression after moving is something you’ll have to deal with at the new place. And why would you, considering all the exciting stuff that naturally comes to mind first. However, no matter how long you’ve been preparing to start afresh, adjusting to an unfamiliar environment is not that simple. Juggling so many things at once will certainly not make the relocation process any easier, but we are here to tell you what to do when separation anxiety kicks in.

What Is Relocation Depression and What Are the Main Reasons It Happens?

According to WHO, there are over 264 million people all over the world suffering from depression. Although the clinical diagnosis is much more challenging than short-term episodes and intense emotional responses to everyday life, dealing with such negative feelings is inherently difficult.

Relocation depression manifests as an occasional or persistent feeling of sadness. Triggered by separation anxiety and sudden change of environment, it causes many breaks in your routine. This is why the nostalgia you have for the things left behind is not unusual. Then again, the real trouble comes with feelings of loneliness and unhappiness that sometimes follow pretty quickly once the move is complete. And if you just let yourself slip and do nothing to fight the blues away, that’s where severe depression comes in.

What Are the Typical Relocation Depression Symptoms?

Although we would all love for our mental health and wellbeing to be kind of a superpower, without any fluctuations no matter the situation, unfortunately, we are only human beings. You have to be ready to spiral downward sometimes. And changing places might be just one of those times. That’s why you should understand how moving affects mental health before relocating to another state alone. And to make it a bit easier, we made a list of common symptoms:

  • Sleep disorders (hypersomnia or insomnia) – It’s not uncommon for a depressed person to have enough sleep and still not feel refreshed upon waking up. However, studies suggest that individuals with mental health conditions experience poor sleep quality and deal with insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Extreme fatigue – Severe fatigue is usually connected with mental issues, not just because of sleep problems but also because of the major lack of motivation and energy.
  • Concentration difficulties – Unfortunately, your ability to think and process information might also change during this period because memory is also affected, not just your moods and emotions.
  • Easily angered or frustrated – Snapping over trivial things and not managing your emotions is the usual warning sign.
  • Decreased or increased appetite – This is also one of the most common red flags because how much you eat changes depending on how well or unwell you feel. When depressed, some will find comfort in food, while others will lose their appetite entirely.

Sure, we get it. Preparing for a move from start to finish can be exhausting; completing one task after another, obtaining proper packing materials, boxing your entire home up, hiring cross-country movers, figuring out the cheapest way to ship a car, etc. But do not fool yourself into thinking you’ve sorted everything out with professional moving services. They are here to help you coordinate the whole process better, give you an opportunity to focus on other tasks you find important, and make the move stress-free.

So do yourself a favor and learn what early warning signs you should be aware of well in advance.

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How Long Does It Usually Last?

You’re probably wondering how long it takes to get settled after moving, but unfortunately, there’s no one correct answer to the question. Everybody needs a different period to adapt to an unfamiliar environment, despite all the relocation tips you can find out there on things to do when relocating into a future home. That’s why relocating to a new city can’t be the same for everyone or entirely stress-free. For some, it can take months before they get all their ducks in a row and feel at home again, whereas, for others, even years are not enough. Being fully adapted means feeling happy and balanced again. And there’s no shortcut to doing it away from the people you love, away from your friends and family.

To hear more about why relocating is so stressful and what you can expect from it, check out the video below.

How Do You Cope With Moving to a New Place?

No matter if you’re relocating for love or you may be relocating for a job, transitioning from one place to another is always tricky. However, it doesn’t mean you should simply indulge the emotional upheaval you’re faced with. Whatever your reasons to move are, asking yourself How do I stop being sad after moving is the first step toward a solution. Do not count on the passage of time as the only remedy for the state you’re in and do something about your happiness.

Connect With People and Stay in Touch With Your Old Friends and Family

Although being depressed after moving into a new house doesn’t make it easy, making friends is one of the best ways to combat separation anxiety and the aversion you have toward an unknown environment. When relocating to a small town or even to the suburbs, don’t be shy to introduce yourself to the folks next door. It’s well known that people from smaller places are usually more welcoming and friendly than those living in urban areas. Not to mention, if you’re relocating with a dog, he will boost your chances of starting a new friendship.

There are many ways to help yourself move efficiently, but to move safely altogether, you have to implement some self-care tips. For that reason, you can’t just give up on your old friends, especially because staying in touch with them nowadays is easier than ever. No matter the distance, connecting with people you love brings back a sense of belonging, which is crucial when you feel low. With apps like Houseparty, talking to your friends and family will be fun again.

Explore the Surroundings, Be a Tourist for a While

One of the main reasons why relocating to a new state seems so unsettling in the first place is because immersing yourself in a community is never simple. But it shouldn’t be scary, either. Although it takes time to get to know your surroundings, the only way to do it is to explore them. And sooner or later, you’ll have to find a way to channel that inner boy or girl scout and prepare yourself for an exciting tour around the neighborhood, or the entire town if you like. Be a tourist for a while, search for historical landmarks, cultural hotspots, take long walks through the parks you like, explore bars and restaurants, buy some new things in nearby malls.

Physical Activities Will Keep You Safe From Post Moving Depression

Many studies have shown that physical activities are quite effective when dealing with emotional and mental challenges. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that interact with the receptors in the brain, which is how your perception of pain reduces and positive feelings emerge.

Sure, nobody expects you to run a marathon, but baby steps would be just fine to start with. If you love to walk – walk, and if you’d rather run – go around the neighborhood and run. If there’s a gym nearby, join it. Or if you have a bike with you, use it. Just make it more enjoyable to go through the day. The feeling of homesickness will not disappear, but your mood will improve, and you’ll feel a bit more motivated again.

There Are Various Mental Health Apps That Could Be Useful

There might come a moment when you’re pretty sure something’s going on with you, but you can’t push yourself to get out of bed and seek help. When this happens, at least you can try some apps designed to help those trying to overcome emotional crises. Here are just a few:

  • Happify – If looking for a psychologist-approved mood-training program, this one is the right choice. Overcoming negative emotions and thoughts with games and activities is always a good solution.
  • MindShift – Although this app was primarily designed for general anxiety, it has also proven beneficial for separation anxiety. It will teach you how to take back control over your life and encourage you to face some tough situations and intense emotions.
  • MoodTools – Using the CBT principles, this app is full of helpful videos and information to better understand yourself and recover faster by boosting your mood.

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Professional Help

Unfortunately, there are cases where these feelings seem too persistent, no matter what you do, and just won’t go away. You’re trying, but there’s still hopelessness following your every step. Sometimes, this chronic feeling of alienation can lead to panic attacks, which require urgent attention, but be smart and try to avoid them by seeking professional help. A reliable therapist, someone you can rely on, will provide you with many strategies to manage your daily life and fight the emotional state you’re in.

Give Yourself Time to Adapt to the New Life

It’s important to understand that starting a new routine takes time. People linking their happiness with the places they’re familiar with only makes it more complicated, but there’s quite a concept behind it called place attachment which explains it all.

Our place attachment increases through actions and behaviors taken in a particular location. The more we give ourselves to it, the more we belong to it, and – quite naturally – we find ourselves happier. However, some people need more time to bond with the place; some need a year, some need five years, and some need a lifetime.

But give yourself time and put the strategies mentioned above to practice. We’re sure they will speed up the process of place attachment and help you grapple with what you’re going through more easily.

Significant Life Changes Are Hard and Stressful, and It’s OK to Feel Depression After Moving

It’s not that hard to conclude that relocation is quite a challenge, both physically and mentally, so keep in mind that you don’t have to go through it all alone. Accept help along the way – from professional movers, people you care about, and the ones you’ve only just met. All of them will know how to reduce the stress you feel at least a tiny bit if you let them. Don’t hold it all in, let yourself be vulnerable, and soon enough, you’ll feel well again.Learning why there’s depression after moving and how to treat it is one of the vital preparatory steps before embarking on your big cross-country journey.

Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

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