Do Break-Ups Trigger Hidden Mental Illness?

It's time to get on with your life.

The idea that romantic love and a happy, healthy relationship can change someone’s life is more than just a cheesy Hollywood trope. Although you shouldn’t expect slow, dreamy music to play in the background while the two of you kiss for the first time, the experience is still as close to magic as one can get in real life.

Having a partner who you care for deeply and who reciprocates the feeling can provide you with a completely new worldview. Unfortunately, unless you have truly found the one to spend the rest of your days with, things eventually end. Even so, everyone gets over it in time, for the most part. But what happens when you can’t?

When Things Come To An End

Breakups are a natural part of the cycle of life. If a relationship is no longer a source of happiness and satisfaction for one or both partners, then calling the whole thing off should be done without regrets. And while it might take longer for some to heal than others, everyone eventually moves on.

Nevertheless, some break-ups can be traumatic and inflict some serious damage on the self-esteem and mental stability of one of the parties involved. Shock, outbursts and a general state of lethargy are not uncommon in this case. But can we go as far as saying that such events are triggers for mental illness? Let’s find out.

Break-Ups and Mental Illness

It’s no secret that each one of us is different and acts in various manners depending on the circumstances that are at hand. Naturally, this is equally true for those times in life when we must deal with a parting of ways. Thus, while some people deal with it in an organic manner and successfully move on, others tend to fall into madness.

When someone you were strongly bonded with is no longer a part of your life, it’s normal to feel hopeless and empty at first. Anger and frustration are natural feelings as well, and it’s recommended to let them play out. You’re allowed to cry and sulk, if you don’t take the whole thing too far.

However, when the situation gets out of hand, it’s time to pull the brakes. Unhealthy attitudes include falling in and out of depression coupled with vivid revenge fantasy and other instances of maniacal behavior such as online or real-life stalking. A refusal to move on represented by a sickly desire to perpetuate and accentuate your melancholia is also a worrisome sign.

Licensed therapist Courtney Geter has stated that those with a pre-existing mental condition are far more likely to have it triggered by such an emotionally straining event as a break-up. This means that those who have dealt with anxiety, depression or any other type of disorder of the mind in the past might have their destructive behaviors reawakened by the separation.

Still, Geter warns that those without prior manifestations of mental illness of any sort can also experience a breakdown in this scenario. When breakups aren’t mutual, they give birth to an unhealthy pattern of negative thoughts that can consume an individual’s mind if he or she let it spiral out of control.

Simply put, a romantic rupture can bring out the worst in us. When you are suddenly forced to live without the person who was previously your life partner and guiding light, feelings similar to those caused by drug withdrawal ensue. And if you’ve ever had to deal with those, then you know exactly how much of a toll they take on one’s sanity.

To add insult to injury, when you’re struggling with something this serious, the lines between what’s normal and what’s not tend to blur in your perception. So, how can you know when you’ve gone too far? The answer is simple. You have to always keep a checklist at the back of your head and fire a warning shot each time an item on the bad list gets ticked off.

Obsessing over your ex and visiting his or her Facebook page incessantly are the first red flags you might encounter. If you don’t regain control of the situation, soon enough you will find yourself going somewhere that you might run into him or her and constantly talk about them with any occasion you might get.

Playing sad music and watching depressing films to accentuate your state is also a warning sign that many people fail to take seriously. Although it might seem innocent enough, if you keep it up for long, it’s a clear indicator of the fact that you are unwilling to move on. Thus, you might want to influence your mood the other way around.

According to Healthline, there are healthy symptoms of a break-up, and then there are the destructive ones. It’s normal to feel anger and frustration with the situation, as is experiencing sudden fear in what the future holds and a few bouts of crying here and there. As long as they eventually go away, you’re fine.

But when you spend your days feeling worthless, hopeless and empty, and you lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed, it’s time to pull the brakes on yourself. Similarly, if you experience any irregularities in your diet or sleep cycle, such as eating too much or too little, as well as insomnia or a tendency to oversleep, something’s clearly amiss.

Bottom Line

Breaking up with someone your world used to revolve around can indeed be a strong trigger for mental illness. Fortunately, the symptoms are rather easy to pick out in a lineup. Thus, if you find yourself on the verge of depression following a rather unpleasant event, don’t be ashamed to reach out and seek help. It will work wonders in the long run.

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Alex Moore is a Psychology blogger with a special interest in relationships. While trying to comprehend what the secret ingredient that binds people together, you’ll normally find him contributing for Schizlife.

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