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Blog October 20, 2021

Understanding and Overcoming Depression After Moving

Posted in Psychology of Moving
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

Have you ever heard about depression after moving? It’s not unusual for people to develop this mental illness after rough and challenging experiences such as relocating. In fact, most people experience some kind of negative emotions and symptoms after a move – the only question is how severe they get and how they influence your everyday life.

How Does Moving Affect Mental Health?

How does moving house affect you emotionally, and can it cause some mental health issues? Like every other important event, relocation is stressful. And everything that causes stress can eventually lead to depression if the issue is left unaddressed. This meaningful event can shake you on many levels – and it will definitely disturb your peace, comfort, and routines and possibly lead to some form of unhappiness. All of this combined may lead to insomnia or changes in appetite or some other symptoms such as inability to focus or cause feelings such as loneliness. 

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Why Is Relocation Hard to Deal With?

Relocation is one of the most stressful events in the modern era, as many psychological studies have proven. But why is this so hard? Well, first of all – every relocation requires that we adapt to changes. These changes require that we accept a completely unknown reality, something that might feel risky and unpleasant, especially for people who adapt to changes harder than others and experience every emotion on a deeper level.

The other reason is that sometimes, relocation is combined with different life-changing events – some good and some bad. For example, people usually move after a divorce or after losing their job. In other cases, people move for love and want to start living together with their soulmates in a new city. Although the last scenario is a generally positive one, it also has some negative consequences – for example, saying goodbye to other people you love, such as friends and family. Kids also have difficulties adapting to these changes, especially if they need to change schools and meet new friends, and they are afraid that they won’t be accepted.

Girl thinking about changes that come with long-distance moving Relocation is usually connected to many other big changes

How Long Does It Take to Feel Normal After Moving? Every Big Change in Life Requires an Adjustment Period

The answer to this question is similar – if you make bigger changes, it will take longer to adapt. This also depends on some personality differences – for example, an extroverted person who stays active, immediately meets neighbors, makes friends, and has an active lifestyle is more likely to adapt quickly than an introverted person that doesn’t enjoy these changes much. You can’t plan how much exactly this will last – for some people, it can take a few weeks to adapt, but for others, the adjustment period can take months. The important thing is to stay open and focused on your goals and priorities, other things will sort out eventually – just don’t pressure yourself too much.

Person experiencing adjustment difficulties after moving cross-country Frequent transitions might be hard to handle

How Does Relocation Affect Children?

Most adults during their lifetime learn some coping mechanisms that help them get through crises and problems more easily, but what about children? There are some important things to consider if you’re relocating with kids. They experience everything in the same way as adults, but sometimes their feelings are even more intense because they still haven’t learned coping techniques, and handling problems causes some difficulties. They also tend to mirror their parents’ issues and copy them. For example, if they feel that their parents are stressed about the relocation or are dealing with a depressive episode, they might develop some symptoms as well. These common symptoms might be a sign that your child is currently overwhelmed with negative emotions and stressed out after a move:

  • Trouble focusing on school tasks and completing schoolwork and homework,
  • Hyperactive behavior and overreacting to everything,
  • Frequent nightmares and sleep-related fear or insomnia,
  • Bedwetting (in a period when the child already stopped doing it),
  • Eating disorders,
  • Withdrawing themselves from family and friends,
  • Signs of anger and aggression as an answer to minor problems.

This video might help you prepare for relocating with children better.

What Is Moving Depression? Relocation Depression Symptoms That Might Occur Once You Move to a New Home

In order to deal with this problem, you have to know how to recognize it. In the beginning, you can simply have less energy for everyday tasks or sleep too much without having any will to leave your bed. But the real problem occurs when you start avoiding human interaction, don’t take care of yourself, and cannot complete everyday tasks. So just to ensure that you understand the difference, a light depressive episode might provoke symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness,
  • Self-blame, worthlessness, or guilt for past actions,
  • Tiredness without any reason and inability to rest,
  • Feelings of emptiness and lack of pleasure,
  • Anxiety, agitation, irritability, or frustration without particular reason,
  • Finding it difficult to deal with everyday tasks,
  • Feeling sensitive or misunderstood, 
  • Finding it hard to return calls or texts, canceling or avoiding plans, and isolating yourself from others,
  • Adjustment insomnia or sleeping too much,
  • Lack of self-care,
  • Change in appetite followed by severe weight loss or weight gain – eating for comfort,
  • Physical problems, such as back pain or headaches,
  • Slowed thinking and body movements,
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions,
  • Forgetfulness.

Severe symptoms include:

  • Talking about unbearable pain and unwillingness to live,
  • Suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts,
  • Chronic hopelessness,
  • Inability to imagine yourself in the future,
  • Feeling like a burden to others.

How Long Do These Symptoms Last and When Can They Significantly Affect Your Mental Health?

Sometimes, depressive episodes can be a sign of bipolar disorder, so they are combined with periodical manic episodes that usually appear as completely opposite behavior. Depressive episodes can sometimes occur after some traumatic events, and they need to last for at least a few weeks to be officially diagnosed. People who suffer from other mental health issues are more likely to face this problem at least once in their lifetime. So if you notice that you have some of the mentioned symptoms and they continue after a month, it’s necessary to look for professional help.

Girl sitting in a room after moving long-distance Seeing a therapist is recommended at any time, especially with severe symptoms that last for a while

Can Moving Too Much Cause Depression?

Some studies show that over 17 million residents of the United States experienced a depressive episode at least once in their lifetime. An isolated episode does not have to lead to a long-term issue, but chances are higher. Reasons that lead to relocation depression can be combined with different factors – how far a person is going, who they are relocating with, if they are changing their job as well, if they are leaving friends and family behind, how often they make similar changes, and so on. Frequent relocation can make the risk even higher – if you experience all of these problems often, there’s a bigger chance that you’ll have some long-term consequences and start feeling like you can’t handle these overwhelming events.

Another factor is the size of the place you’re relocating to, and what you’re looking for – relocating to a small town might reduce your options for getting a good job. Relocating to a big city opens up many possibilities, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easier to adjust.

Logically, the more relationships they end and the bigger changes they make, the worse the outcome can be. Also, a last-minute move is more likely to cause negative consequences than a move that’s been planned for months, so the person is already prepared mentally for some big changes. Organizing a move for months is one of the best ways to have a stress-free relocation, and it’s less dangerous for health than relocating in a hurry, but unfortunately, other factors still have a big impact on the final result.  

Professional cross country movers Hiring professionals can be a good way to handle at least some of the potential problems

How to Cope With Post Moving Depression?

If you have already experienced similar issues in the past or are feeling anxious about the upcoming relocation, it is essential that you plan everything in advance, pack on time, and hire professional cross-country movers for moving services. Sorting out everything, saving enough money, and organizing important documents can be a good way to start if you want to move safely. If everything goes smoothly, the chances that you’ll get disappointed and depressed will be lower. Another good way to keep your spirits up is unpacking after moving in as soon as you get to your new home and keeping yourself busy by decorating the space. When it comes to dealing with loneliness, if you’re relocating to an unknown city alone, it’s highly recommended that you put yourself out there. 

Try to Stay Active Physically and in Social Life

It’s natural that you sometimes feel isolated or withdrawn from your friends and family, but you should really try to make some new friendships and invest in relationships. If you’re not very good at approaching strangers, one of the things to consider when relocating to a different state is volunteering in charity organizations. You’ll feel like you found a good purpose and possibly meet some people with the same intentions.

Relocating with pets is another great idea – if you have your furry friends by your side while you’re feeling alone, you’ll instantly feel better. You should also take care of your physical health and try to eat quality food, sleep regularly, exercise, and spend time in the sun. One of the great benefits of relocating is that you can explore interesting areas and amazing parks that might be perfect for various activities. If you’re more into going to the gym or working out at home, don’t forget to relocate your exercise equipment – it is essential that you continue with your exercise routines as soon as possible.

When to Seek Professional Help if You’re Depressed After Moving Into a New House?

In some cases, if you notice some of the previously mentioned symptoms or start feeling overwhelmed, there is no reason not to seek professional help immediately. Why burden yourself additionally when you are already going through so much? It will be much easier for you to get through this transition if you have a professional coach or a therapist by your side. They can help you set priorities and organize routines better, even if you’re currently feeling like a complete mess. Don’t hesitate to go to group therapy as well – this can be a good place to meet someone who is going through the same problems and find a good support system.

Girl practicing yoga at home Try staying physically active as much as possible, even at your own home

Embrace a Positive Mindset and Try to Enjoy Your New Environment

If you struggled with psychological problems before, you already know that it is important to embrace positivity and try to find pleasure in small things and everyday moments. If you move with professional cross-country movers, it will be much easier to focus on yourself and your goals as soon as you get to your new home. Every moment can be memorable if you experience it that way – that’s why you need to look at every day as an opportunity to do something nice for yourself and others. Once you learn how to take smaller steps and enjoy each one of them, you’ll enjoy every moment and stay comfortable in your own skin wherever you are.

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