Coping with Depression After Moving
Moving at any point in your life is a big production. While the excitement and adrenaline of the move will have you pumped up and energized, often once that has passed we are left with feelings of depression and anxiety as we begin to mourn the space and life we've left behind.
These feelings can be amplified when moving great distances as we typically are leaving friends and family behind. Moving to a different country can increase these feelings even more as there is often an aspect of culture shock as well. The good news is that there are a few ways to overcome relocation depression and when caught early, it's often easier to deal with.
Moving often creates a flurry of excitement, so feeling depressed or displaced can often get caught up with the rest of emotions and isn't always recognizable as something that needs to be addressed. Some symptoms to watch for are:
- Excessive lethargy – If you find that you're sleeping a lot more than you would normally or are consistently tired, there may be a risk of relocation depression.
- Increased anxiety – Anxiety often comes hand-in-hand with depression, especially in situational circumstances such as a major move or relocation. It's natural to feel a little bit displaced or out of your element until you get used to the new space but if you start to notice that you become overwhelmed with anxiety or suffer from panic attacks you may need to speak to your doctor.
- Becoming withdrawn –Once you're unpacked and starting to get settled, your new home starts to become a space of comfort. If you find however, that you would rather stay in on a beautiful day than go for a walk or you're not interested in activities that you would normally be excited about, there may be some depression setting in. You know yourself and your habits, so just be aware of any abnormal behavior or dramatic changes in your personality.
Often the most difficult part is recognizing that there is an issue or admitting that you've been suffering from feelings of depression. But once you've acknowledged it or spoken to your doctor, there are ways to help overcome the effects of relocation depression.
1. Get Involved
Signing up for classes or attending community events is a great way to introduce yourself to your new neighbors and the members of your community. It can be intimidating, especially if you're not typically one to talk to people, but stepping out of your comfort zone could be the start of a lasting friendship.
Volunteering is also a great way to get involved in the community and even give back to it. This would be a great first impression as well and could be the start of many conversations.
If this is too much for you or if you're more of an introvert with depression, just getting out of the house and into local areas like grocery stores or coffee shops may help you to recognize certain people. While you many not know them on a personal level yet, you can start to see familiar faces, which could lead to feeling more comfortable and at home.
2. Stay In Touch
To help ease the transition, it may help to contact friends and loved ones to share your various experiences. Talking about your adventures and new experiences helps you to stay in touch with friends and family as well as possibly adding a new perspective to a situation.
3. Get Out
Going for walks, hikes, or exploring your community and new hang out spots is a great way to get to know your new city. Not only will this help you to find your way around and become more familiar with your surroundings, but the fresh air and exercise will help to clear your head and promote positive thoughts and feelings to help combat the symptoms of depression.
4. Find a Routine
This can be tricky as you don't want to find yourself stuck in a rut or too comfortable in your own way of doing things, but having a routine and sense of consistency can help to ease the transition as things start to feel familiar. If your routine includes getting a morning coffee or going for a walk, this could be a great way to start meeting your neighbors and introducing yourself.
5. Let Your Pets Help You Out
Pets are incredible companions. Not only do they provide pet therapy when needed but they can also bring some routine into your day-to-day life. If you are a dog person, taking your dog for regular walks is a great way to explore your surroundings as well as start talking to new friends and neighbors.
6. Decorate Your New Space
Distractions are a great way to keep your mind busy and keep the negative thoughts at a minimum. Productive distractions are even better as you'll be creating something that could help you in the long run. Decorating, for example, is a great way to set up your space so that it feels more like home while keeping you busy. Finding old treasures or new spaces for favourite items can bring a sense of familiarity and comfort into your home.
After all of this, it's still important to be patient with yourself. You've likely gone through a big move and an intense process to get to where you are. Give yourself time to settle into your new space and adjust to your surroundings. It will take time and a bit of exploring before the strange new city starts to feel like home but try some of the tips above to help break out of those depressive feelings.