For many people, moving feels like an adventure. They start fresh and explore new opportunities. They upgrade into a bigger home or relocate for a better job. And they can meet new people and build lasting relationships.
But for some, moving brings a lot anxiety, stress, and even depression. They have to say goodbye to family and friends. They have to tear up their roots and move to an unfamiliar neighborhood. And they have to adjust to a different language, culture, or lifestyle.
While you can certainly feel a little sad and nostalgic about moving, you shouldn’t ignore any lasting feelings of depression after a move.
Signs You Have Depression
Many people confuse depression with general sadness about a situation. However, sadness makes up one factor of overall depression. Some people who experience depression don’t even feel sad, but rather they experience a loss of interest, difficulty concentrating, and being distracted.
Be on the lookout for the following scenarios:
You Can’t Pull Yourself Out of Bed
After a strenuous move, you understandably want a few days to recover and let your sore muscles heal. But if you wake up tired and devoid of energy day after day, or if you need 12 hours of sleep or more to make it through the day, you should take that as a sign of depression.
You Binge on Netflix
The occasional Netflix binge can become a fun way for you and your family to bond. Together you can catch up on the latest Dr. Who or The Walking Dead series that you may have missed during the weeks you packed up your TV.
On the other hand, if you watch alone for hours on end simply because nothing else interests you, you could have depression.
You Can’t Leave Facebook Alone
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites will let you maintain long-distance relationships long after you move. You can instantly see what your brother, aunt, or childhood friend did over the weekend and carry on conversations as if you had never left.
But if you use Facebook as a link to life you “should have had,” and you feel the urge to check on loved ones every few minutes, you should take that as an indicator of depression.
In fact, studies show that individuals who participate in “surveillance usage” and compare their lives to others often suffer from feelings of depression.
Ways to Cope with Relocation Depression
If you struggle with depression after you move, you can take steps to feel more comfortable, relaxed, and happy. Try some of the following methods to see if they work for you:
Create a Familiar Environment
If your home feels strange or unfamiliar to you, unpack a few of your treasured belongings and put them in a place you’ll see on a regular basis. For example, hang that favorite photo of you and your best friend at the beach near your bathroom mirror. Or cuddle up with an old throw pillow, even if it doesn’t match your new décor. You’ll remind yourself that not everything has changed with your new location.
Try New, Active Hobbies
Depression can make your old hobbies seem uninteresting, frustrating, or even painful. But that doesn’t mean you should stop your creative thinking entirely. Explore new hobbies that will keep you moving and active. For example, you could join a yoga group at the gym or sign up for a photography class at your community center.
Make New Friends
First impressions and introductions feel awkward at first, but try to get to know your new neighbors and make friends with the regulars you see at your grocery store or laundromat. A familiar face in an unfamiliar place can seem like a welcome balm during a depressing time.
And remember, you don’t have to give up your previous relationships either. Don’t be afraid to call your best friend, even if he or she lives miles away.
While the above coping methods work well for some people, they don’t present a cure-all for everyone. If you struggle with depression or can’t seem to shake feelings of emptiness, talk to a medical professional about your situation.