Relocation Depression: What It Is and How to Overcome It
Moving from one place to another is a major life event, and one that produces many strong emotions throughout the experience – from the moment you know that you have to relocate to the day that everything is unloaded into your new home, and even afterwards. While these emotions may include excitement or thrill about a new adventure, these feelings are often quickly replaced by very different ones.
Emotions relating to doubt, insecurity, stress, fear, nostalgia, and even sadness can be common following a big move. These all contribute to and can sometimes lead to depression, or what is commonly referred to as ‘relocation depression.’ If you’ve completed a move in your lifetime, you likely already know how stressful and strenuous it can be, both mentally and physically. In fact, you may have already experienced post-move depression and didn’t know what it was. Or, perhaps you’re in the midst of it now.
Rest assured because we’re here to help. Continue reading to learn about what exactly relocation depression is, some of the most common symptoms, and most significantly – what you can do to overcome relocation depression upon moving into a new home.
What is Relocation Depression?
When we think about depression, we tend to think about it being caused by situations of trauma such as witnessing violence, car accidents, or abuse. Therefore, it might be surprising to learn that there is such a thing as transitional trauma and that it can cause moving-related depression, or relocation depression.
Relocation depression manifests itself as strong feelings of nostalgia or sadness, appearing after you’ve settled into your new home. Depending on a variety of variables, these feelings may start to crop up immediately after the move, or a few days, weeks, or even months into the post-relocation phase.
Can moving really lead to depression? It can and here’s some reasons why:
- The move caused you to leave behind your friends and you may be missing them quite a bit. While you can still keep in touch with them, quality time spent face-to-face is no longer possible.
- Moving caused you to step out of your comfort zone. This resulted in all of the familiar sights, sounds, and smells that your body is used to being completely gone. The move has severely disrupted your daily routine.
- You may feel overwhelmed by the thought of starting over. Moving to a new place requires you to find new friends, get to know your area, and really apply yourself at your job. This notion can make you feel like you lack energy and it’d be much easier to just move back.
Moving to a new place with family typically lowers your chance of getting relocation depression. Of course, you’re still going to miss your old friends and will have a hard time adjusting, but you do have the support of your family to help you cope.
Symptoms of Relocation Depression
In most cases, relocating can be an emotional endeavor and it’s highly likely that your emotions are going to be all over the place once you’ve moved into your new home. It might take a few days to notice symptoms of relocation depression, especially since you’re going to be physically and mentally occupied with a number of tasks.
However, once things start to settle down, that’s when you may become flooded with thoughts about the people and places that you’ve left behind as a result of your relocation. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of relocation depression:
- Sleeping more than normal or insomnia: When your mental stability is thrown off, it can impact your normal sleep patterns – whether it’s mild or more severe. Therefore, it’s common for relocation depression to result in you either sleeping too much, or possible not being able to fall asleep at night.
- Relentless fatigue: Another possible symptom post-relocation is a persistent lack of energy, tiredness, or exhaustion throughout your day. Even if you’re getting a normal amount of sleep, relocation depression can still leave you feeling unnecessarily tired.
- Loss of appetite: Feeling too nervous that you start skipping meals or if you’re simply not hungry or not in the mood to eat, are strong signs that something might be amiss with your mental health.
- Atypical apathy: If you’ve lost the desire to do much of anything and the hobbies and interests you did prior to your move don’t appeal to you anymore, you might be experiencing relocation depression. Spending most of your time in bed or cuddled up on your couch might be a strong indication.
It’s important to understand that if you’re experiencing relocation depression, it can have a damaging effect on your overall wellbeing. Fortunately, though, there are a number of things that you can do to try and get you out of your funk and combat your post-move depression.
How to Overcome Relocation Depression
If you think that you might be suffering from depression as a result of a recent move, you should do something about it. While time can often improve this condition, to overcome it, it’s recommended to be actively trying to combat it. The following are some things that you can implement to cope with relocation depression and start enjoying life again in your new home.
- Stay in touch with old friends. One of the greatest things you can do to cope with relocation depression is to keep in touch with friends from where you used to live. While it may be more difficult and you’ll likely have to try harder because of the distance, this should not be an excuse to let them fade out of your life.
- Explore your new community. Your sense of uncertainty, insecurity, and unfamiliarity can stem from being in a new place. Of course, the best way to combat this is to get out, explore, and learn all there is to know about your new community.
- Do what makes you happy. Another great way to overcome these depressive feelings is to pick up your old hobbies. Or, try tackling some new ones to keep yourself busy and your mind occupied.
- Work up the courage to make new friends. Although it’s important to stay in touch with old friends, it’s even more important to try to make some new ones. Be friendly with your neighbors, coworkers, and take advantage of any opportunity to get to know them on a different level.
- Get a pet. Moving to a new place, especially by yourself, can leave you with feelings of loneliness. Another great way to combat relocation depression is to get a pet – whether it be a dog, cat, or even a bird.
- Exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity is proven to release endorphins, which can improve your mood and leave you feeling motivated and refreshed. Join a gym, do some at-home exercises, or go for a nice stroll outside to get your blood pumping.
- Give yourself time. It’s important to understand that it’s going to take time for a new place to feel like home and for you to get back into a regular routine. Don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself plenty of time to get your life back on track.
- Speak with a professional. If your feelings of fear, sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness persist longer than weeks, or even months, it’s strongly advisable that you speak to a professional. A licensed professional is always going to provide you with the best course of action for managing whatever it is you’re going through.
It’s not uncommon for relocation depression to lead to people moving back to where they came from. If this is the case, your next step is to look for reliable movers to assist you with your relocation. We’d be happy to help!