In many cases, moving to a new home, state, or city can be an exciting time, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Moving to a new place often ignites feelings of loneliness, self-doubt, and even relocation depression.
Relocation depression is a real thing and not something that is talked about very much openly. Relocation depression (also called transitional trauma) is exactly what you might imagine — a depression that sets in after a move.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.”
Thankfully, the feelings behind relocation depression can be alleviated and treated.
Knowing the symptoms of relocation depression is the first step in diagnosing the disease. Let’s look at the signs of relocation depression and how you can start to move through it.
Relocation Depression Symptoms
As with any life event, the way people react and feel about a change is different. Some people thrive and embrace change with open arms, while others experience high anxiety and feel down when life changes — especially after moving to a new city or state.
The symptoms associated with relocation depression are similar to ones associated with generalized depression.
If you feel like you or someone in your life might be struggling with relocation depression, here are symptoms to look for:
- A lot of sleeping: This is one of the most common depression symptoms. If you notice that the usual eight hours aren’t enough sleep, but they were before you moved, you may be experiencing relocation depression.
- Not wanting to leave your home: Enjoying your new home is one thing, but avoiding leaving it is another. Does going out to grab food feel like too much? If you avoid leaving your new home at all costs, you could be battling depression.
- Not finding joy in your favorite things anymore: It’s normal not to have free time to do the things you love during the hustle and bustle of a move — once you’re settled, if you still aren’t finding the time to read books, explore new coffee shops, or put effort into the things you usually love, you may have relocation depression.
- Not wanting to socialize: Are you normally a social butterfly but find yourself turning into a hermit since moving? It’s okay to feel a little lonely when you initially arrive in a new city, but it’s important to make an attempt to meet new people.
If the above feelings are hitting too close to home for you, here are five ways to help get you out of the relocation depression funk.
Try To Stick to Old Routines
Uprooting to a new city can be a significant, overwhelming life change. Instead of being consumed with the stress of it, one of the best ways to combat the feelings of relocation depression is to stick to a familiar routine.
For example, if you have a strict bedtime during the week, a preferred morning routine, and a workout schedule, try to get back into those things once you’ve moved in and started to settle into your new place. If your favorite thing to do in your old home was to wake up early for Saturday morning coffee, do that in your new area.
Performing routines you enjoy and are familiar with will give you a sense of familiarity. Once you start to feel the heaviness of your relocation depression fade away and begin to feel more like yourself, you can establish new, fun routines.
Try Making New Friends
One of the hardest things to do after moving to a new place is making new friends, but one optimistic thought to remember is that just like your old friends gave you a reason to miss them, new friends will give you a reason to like your new city and feel at home. Keep in mind that it takes time and making good friends won’t happen overnight. Even though it’s tough, try to make an effort to get out there and mingle.
Think about your interests and find spots where you can find people with those same interests. If you’re a workout fanatic, try some new fitness classes and gyms. If volunteering is where you feel at home, find places to volunteer at. When you meet people doing things you love, they likely love it too, so you have the potential to be a good friendship match.
Meeting people out in the real world is easier said than done. If you find yourself not meeting many people in real life, there are apps and websites to find friends, like meetup.com or Bumble BFF.
Explore Your New City
According to most professional movers, another way to help alleviate the feelings around relocation depression is by exploring the new city you live in. Every town has something unique to offer — whether that be shopping, hiking trails, nightlife, or sporting events — but you’ll never find them if you don’t get out and explore.
If you’re not a confident solo-adventurer, do research online for the best things to do in your city and see what stands out as interesting or fun to you. It’s easier to explore and feel like socializing when you have a game plan. Try to head out to someplace new, grab a drink, bring a good book, and just hang out in public for a bit. Once you start to feel comfortable in your city, you’ll be more open to building relationships, feeling comfortable, and feeling like yourself.
Stay in Contact With Family and Old Friends
While it is important to embrace a fresh start with new people and new surroundings, it’s also essential to keep in contact with family and old friends. Communicating with your favorite people will give you a sense of familiarity and security, especially during a lonely and trying time.
While you may not be able to hang out with friends in your old city physically, you can still talk to them. Try to schedule weekly calls or have FaceTime dates. You can even put in extra effort to plan virtual movie nights, start a book together, or cook dinner simultaneously on a phone call.
When you’re feeling vulnerable, close friends and family are great people to reach out to for support. Talk to them about your experiences in your new home and any difficulties you’ve had along the way. In most cases, venting and opening up will make your relationships stronger. You can also make plans to go back and visit so you can see your friends or family in person.
Related article: 8 Tips on How To Keep In Touch With Friends After You Move
Give Yourself Time To Adjust
There’s no doubt that overcoming relocation depression is easier said than done. Everyone experiences life changes differently and on different timelines. Don’t force yourself into situations you’re not ready for, but try not to become a recluse, either.
When you start to explore your city, make new friends, and find a familiar routine, you’ll start feeling like yourself again.
If you follow these tips and still feel the heaviness of relocation depression on your shoulders, reach out to loved ones or a professional for help.