Moving is a major life transition and a common trigger for depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Uprooting your life, saying goodbye to everything familiar and comfortable and starting over in a strange place is emotionally taxing. If you are battling relocation depression and have difficulty adjusting after your move, these helpful coping mechanisms may alleviate your pain.
If you think you or a loved one may be depressed following your move, look for these common signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Short-term memory loss
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Excessive sleeping
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent headaches, cramps, digestive problems or other nagging pain
- Persistent sadness or "empty" feelings
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
Reasons for relocation depression after a move
There are many reasons why moving can trigger depression after a move, such as:
- Culture shock: Moving to a new country, or even a new state, may leave you feeling alienated. A new language, culture or lifestyle can be difficult to adjust to and cause homesickness. If you are longing for familiar surroundings and favorite places back home, you may begin to feel depressed.
- Isolation: If you move to a new place alone, it may take some time before you make friends. Your days may feel lonely. Feeling ostracized or as if you don't fit in with anyone in your new city is the most common trigger for depression.
- Missing loved ones: Did you leave many friends and family members behind when you moved? Not seeing the familiar faces of loved ones often can be difficult to accept. The loss of frequent interaction and closeness with your loved ones after a move can almost feel like grieving.
- Following a spouse: Was this move due to a spouse's job transfer? If you had to relocate to support your partner, and had no personal motivation to start a new life, you may feel resentful. Giving up your job, friends and home for someone else's benefit may make you feel as if you were forced to compromise your future.
Ways to cope with relocation depression after a move
While dealing with depression is different for everyone, there are many ways to cope:
- Making new friends: It may be difficult to make new friends immediately after a move, but having close pals or even acquaintances can greatly reduce the stress and sadness associated with a move. Friends make great support systems and will eliminate the loneliness and isolation you feel after relocating long distance.
- Talking to loved ones: They may be miles away, but your loved ones back home can ease your unpleasant feelings with supportive and encouraging words. One of the best ways to ease depression is to talk it out with someone you trust. Call the best listener you know for a nonjudgmental ear to listen to you.
- Thinking positive: You should never underestimate the power of positive thought. Sulking in your new apartment and dwelling on everything you hate about your new city will only make things worse. Focus on new goals for yourself. What opportunities does your new region offer that your hometown did not? What can you gain from this experience? Consider this next step an adventure.
- Exercising: Physical activity is a great cure for the blues. Working out causes a rush of endorphins, which boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Join a gym or a local sports team. Perhaps walk more, drive less.
- Finding new interests: Keeping busy with hobbies or projects will help you combat feelings of sadness. Explore new avenues and consider what your new locale has to offer. Beautiful scenery? Take up hiking, boating or fishing. Hip music scene? Check out some shows at nearby venues. Gaining an interest in your community and participating in regional pastimes will help you feel connected to your new home.
- Seeking professional help: If your feelings of sadness and hopelessness will not abate, you may want to consider seeking assistance from a professional. Talk therapy or counseling may be required to determine the root of your depression. Your therapist will discuss the best method to treat it.
TIP: There are many ways to cope with relocation depression, but it's always important to seek professional help if you're overwhelmed. If you are considering harming yourself or having suicidal thoughts, you should contact a mental health professional right away.