a man leaning over a wooden table and looking sad after moving across the country

Depression After Moving is Usual – Here’s How to Overcome It

Posted in Coping With Relocation on August 17, 2021

By Gemma Collins

While depression after moving sounds like fiction or something that only happens to others, it’s very real. Some people feel sad for a few days and then get over it entirely, while others have a hard time recovering for weeks. If you think it’s hitting you, but aren’t sure of the symptoms, keep reading.

How does moving affect mental health? A task as big as moving across the country can cause lots of complications for a person. Someone preparing for a move has to make a relocation to-do list but doesn’t know how. Others are relocating with a newborn and don’t know how to juggle all the tedious tasks. Somebody who’s already feeling anxiety about relocating is terrified about making any relocation mistakes and isn’t sure how to cope. Even before we move, we can be struck by the process.

You’re Not Going Mad – Depression After Moving is Real

The process of cross-country moving can last a while. Some things need to be done in the process that we tend to completely overlook, such as learning how to organize your move, then doing some move-out cleaning so you could prepare your home for sale, and alike.

Even organizing important documents seems complicated when every part of the process gets taken into account. After all that, some symptoms can hit and cause feelings of sadness and inadequacy. If you feel like this, you’re not alone.

Relocation Depression Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of being depressed are:

  • Frequent mood swings – irritability, anger, crying, sadness, anxiousness,
  • Feeling incompetent, empty, or inadequate,
  • Fatigue and exhaustion (even when not doing any activities)
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping,
  • Being unable to concentrate and perform daily tasks,
  • Sluggish movements and speech,
  • Loss of appetite or overeating,
  • Resorting to distractions like alcohol, drugs, and other risky activities to help cope,
  • Loss of self-esteem or belief in oneself,
  • Digestive issues.

These can be only some of the symptoms of being depressed, especially after relocation. Some individuals can also develop flu-like symptoms. These feelings and changes in mental and physical performance occur after traumatic events (and can be directly linked to PTSD,) but they’re also potentially genetic and ingrained in one’s DNA.

The good news is that being depressed can be helped; if it’s not a mental health issue that requires medication and constant therapy, the feelings of dejection can go away once you’ve adjusted to your other home. However, if symptoms persist for weeks or even months, you should see a skilled physician who can provide expert help.

a man feeling tired in front of his laptop while planning long-distance moving
Fatigue, insomnia, and a lack of concentration can be symptoms of being depressed

What Are the Main Causes of Relocation Blues, Anyway?

Whatever your reasons for relocating are, whether you want to go to a new apartment or prefer to get a job in a different city, they can easily cause sadness and melancholy. Even if the decision was all yours and you were excited about it, there are explanations as to why you feel the way you do.

Mental Health and Hormones Go Hand In Hand

Feeling depressed after moving could be explained by a change in hormone functions or genetic, mental health issues. Events that can trigger feelings of despair, such as relocating to another state alone, cause hormonal imbalances and mess with the part of your brain that’s in charge of serotonin and dopamine. This is the most common explanation for chronically depressed patients, too.

Even a tedious task like relocating in winter can influence brain functions during cold and icy days. This is especially true for people who experience seasonal depression and have difficulties functioning and feeling happy during the freezing winter days.

You Could Be Experiencing Jet Lag

You wanted to move efficiently and probably did; you likely planned out how to move to another city and did it without a hitch. So, why are you getting the blues? If you’re feeling depressed after moving into a new house and don’t know why the secret might be in the time zones.

Did you move to the other side of the country, or maybe internationally? The US alone has six different time zones, and states like Nevada and Indiana have two time zones. No wonder then that even a few hours lost or gained could make even the strongest people feel disoriented. If you haven’t moved yet, you can do the where should I move quiz to help you decide whether you’d be OK with experiencing more or less jet lag.

Nostalgia, Explained

Even if relocating to a new home and potentially learning how to live on your own seem exciting in theory but causes you despair otherwise, nostalgia could be gripping you tightly. Scientifically explained, nostalgia occurs when we long for past events and experiences; it’s only normal that it happens after relocating since you’re starting to miss all the old stuff from before.

Nostalgia can also occur when thinking about objects and items from the past, so if there were things you decided not to keep when relocating and get rid of them instead, there’s a possibility you got sad and wishful for that object to come back. Despite it not being relevant or not having a place in your life anymore, nostalgia can happen and make you feel sad.

So, now you might be wondering how do I stop being sad about moving and if there’s anything that can be done to shorten the lifespan of that sadness. The feeling of missing old places and things is common and normal, but practicing gratefulness for the present moment can easily distract you from feeling defeated. Watch the video below for other tips on healing nostalgia.

How to Defeat the Blues in Your New Home

Whether you moved with your family, relocated for love to your partner’s place, or just braved the adventure on your own, think of the other place as a possibility for a fresh start. Even if you miss your friends and family and prefer to keep in touch with them frequently, that can make it worse for you in the long run.

There are things you can do in your other, newly decorated house, and even in the area, that can reduce stress and relocation blues.

Exercising Can Give You More Energy and Life

Focusing on where you are is the first step towards beating the moving depression. If you find yourself for the most part sitting and laying around after relocating stress-free, why not try some exercise? No, we don’t mean signing up for a gym and lifting insane amounts of weight; we mean getting out of bed, turning on your favorite music, and party like it’s 1999.

This, and any other home variety of shaking and getting active, from cleaning up to just jumping up and down in place, are great ways to start adjusting to life in a different location. In addition to this, yoga is an incredible way to deal with stress and get movement in your body. You could also take a walk around the block and familiarize yourself with it. A pleasant environment for walking and other outdoor activities could help you decide where to live before relocating, too.

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Try Your Luck in Making New Friends

We understand that a considerable part of being stressed in a different location is that you’re unsure how to approach others. However, making friends in a new city doesn’t have to be dreadful. There aren’t any reasons why you should be shy unless it’s in your nature. In that case, start by looking for friends in your neighborhood; maybe you had an office move, and there are fresh faces and different people; if you relocated with pets, take a walk to the dog park and see if someone would have a chat. There are opportunities if you know how to find them.

Go Outside and Go Sightseeing

How do you cope with moving to a new place? By spending time in nature. Research was conducted at the University of Cornell about the significance of spending as little as ten minutes in a natural environment. This short period’s been proven to reduce anger, stress, and feelings of sadness. If you’re planning to move to a place with lots of parks and hiking trails, the benefits of relocating are enormous.

This period spent in nature can help you deal with negative emotions, but it can also condition you to be continuously active and out and about. Maybe relocation to this other place wasn’t so bad after all?

two friends sitting in front of a lake and sightseeing after cross-country moving
Sightseeing and spending time in nature are excellent mood lifters

If You’re Reading This Before You Move, Ask Yourself – How Are You?

Some factors can contribute to feelings of sadness, such as worrying about one’s health if they’re relocating during coronavirus or if they didn’t get the chance to get a job before relocating. It’s no wonder then that we forget to check on ourselves during the relocation process. Even if you weren’t going away but still sense that you’re slowly becoming overwhelmed, ask yourself – how are you doing?

Getting help from friends and family is also important for your health because their support can influence your feelings about relocating. Someone might even wonder can houses cause depression, but the good news is that typically homes with old, traumatic memories cause negative emotions. Everything novel and fresh shouldn’t cause you that much harm; it’s a blank slate that you get to fill out however you want.

a large, smiling family posing after long-distance moving
The people in your life, especially family, can heavily influence your feelings

Can Relocation Depression Be Prevented?

It’s difficult to fully predict whether you’ll be depressed or not after relocating. Still, if you’re a worrier by nature or highly emotional and sensitive, the chances of falling into the depressing rabbit hole are high.

Some tips to reduce initial relocation stress would be to create a household inventory list, maybe even a full relocation binder. Keeping things in check is quite important for managing stress. You can also learn how to pack clothes for relocation, how to plan out your relocation budget, and get the necessary relocation essentials when the day arrives.

Being organized and prepared for every aspect of the relocation seems to aid emotional management. However, if you’re a perfectionist, things that don’t go according to plan could easily affect your mood and get you fired up. Get to know yourself and your limits before doing things a certain way.

Try Hiring Long-Distance Movers for Help

Cross-country movers can also influence your relocation in a big way. Even if you are worried about potential relocation scams, there are ways to verify the legitimacy of the movers you pick and get a great relocation and packing service. Think of it like this – cross-country moving services are there, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve read the right packing tips for relocating.

When you only have to worry about the costs of movers, and maybe if you also want to ship your car or take advantage of free storage for a month, perhaps the feelings of sadness, anxiety, and nostalgia can be reduced. There could be things you forget to do, and movers are there to get it done for you. If you sense that you’re getting upset about the move, you’ll have more hours for yourself to work on it.

one of the cross-country movers carrying household items
Maybe it isn't possible to prevent the feeling of being depressed, but professional assistance can be very significant

Even If You’re Down, Don’t Beat Yourself Up About It

Feelings of sadness, melancholy, and nostalgia are expected and occur at least once in a person’s existence. It’s human to have varying emotions and experience all of them during a lifetime. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be the ultimate human experience if we didn’t go through the motions every once in a while.

That’s why post-moving depression, especially after moving cross-country, can throw you off and have you forget about all the things to do after relocating. However, as the saying goes: “This too shall pass,” and if there are any long-distance moving tips we’d like to provide, it’s that allowing yourself to experience everything, getting to know the real and layered you, and ensuring your move is an experience worth having, are the best ways to defeat the blues.

Gemma Collins