Relationships & Dealing with Breakups: A Mental Health Perspective

Arnold Mascarenhas
6 min readMar 3, 2021
Black and white image of two hands holding each other. Both the arms are covered in long black sleeves. The image indicates relationship breakup.

Whether it’s a short-term fling or a long-time relationship, we often have to deal with breakups. It’s terrible when relationships end and there’s a breakup, but they’re a part of life. As much as we would like, not all relationships last a lifetime.

Romantic relationships tend to be intense and so when they end, that too usually tends to be dramatic and difficult.

Every relationship is different and every break-up is different, as well. But the common factor is the feeling of grief when we reach the dead-end of a relationship.

Breakups can have a severe effect on our mental health. And if someone has a pre-existing or on-going mental health condition, it can amplify that condition. Losing a loved one can cause behavioral disorders leading to anxiety and depression.

We often discuss how mental health impacts our physical health. Yet we overlook the importance of mental health in relationships and breakups. It’s vital to realize that breakups are a part of our life and we have to deal with them at some point in life or the other.

In this article, we discuss how breakups affect us and how we can handle them better.

How does a breakup affect us

As mentioned earlier, everyone deals differently with beak-ups. Some are quick to accept and move on, while others may bottle up their feelings.

It’s natural to feel sad and alone at the loss of a relationship. We go through a wide range of emotions before healing. So, it’s normal to feel angry and frustrated after a breakup. It’s perfectly fine to cry and feel sad about it. In fact these feelings are completely normal and healthy.

A girl sitting on a couch and looking at a photo frame. She is covered in a blanket and is crying while holding a tissue in one hand. The image indicates a relationship breakup.
Grieving the loss of a meaningful relationship is natural

However, sometimes we fail to cope with these feelings. Instead of healing, we tend to drown ourselves in grief. Sometimes the pain affects our mind and triggers mental health concerns like deep sadness, loneliness, fear, and anxiousness. If these feelings impact our healthy lifestyle and destroy our mental peace for a prolonged period of time, we should seek help.

Relationship heartbreak can make us feel hopeless and empty, nearly every day. People tend to lose interest in their favorite activities, lose their appetites and are unable to focus on studies or work.

Depression after a breakup is a painful thing, and some people even entertain suicidal thoughts. People living with a history of mental illness can make it more severe. Hormonal changes after significant changes in our life, such as breakups can cause depression as well.

Close up of a young man sitting on a staircase holding his head in his hands, eyes shut, with a sad expression on his face.
A breakup can lead to mental breakdown or other mental health issues

Ways to deal with a breakup

Since all relationships and breakups are unique, we all have our unique ways to deal with it. We have different ways to feel the grief and express vulnerability. There is no secret or mantra to cope with a bad breakup. However, we can follow some coping mechanisms to deal the loss.

1. Take time to heal

Time can heal our wounds. We have to allow ourselves some time to cope with all the pain and allow our breakup to sink in. During this time, it is okay to cry, to feel too sensitive, or not do anything productive. It’s important to not be harsh on oneself. It may take us some time to accept the reality but with time we will get there.

If the relationship was abusive or manipulative in any way, healing might be more complex because of the trauma experienced. Deciding to seek additional help in the form of a counsellor or therapist is perfectly alright, and is in fact a very healthy and strong thing to do.

Message in sand, time heals. It's common advice given to people after a relationship breakup.
‘Time heals’ is age-old advice for after a relationship breakup

2. Don’t take drastic steps

After a breakup, some people develop potentially harmful behavior like consuming alcohol, overeating, fasting, excessive gaming, or engaging in unhealthy online conversations with random people. It’s normal to eat some ice cream or to cry in your pajamas. Yet overdoing anything can harm our physical and mental health.

It’s harmful to take drastic and impulsive steps to cope with a breakup. One should remember that the end of a relationship doesn’t mean the end of the world. Life is a long journey and we can work to build the courage needed to walk the long road. The way you feel today doesn’t have to be how you will feel a year or even six months from now, if you allow yourself time to heal in a healthy way.

3. Take a break from social media

It’s not a good idea to use social media right after a breakup. It’s hard to move on, as social media connects us with people we know and memories we share with them.

Spartphone with with turn off sign in its screen in womans hand on the beach. Social media gadget internet addiction concept
A healthy way to heal is to stay away from all addictions, including technology

Blocking one’s ex on social media is not always a realistic solution as we may still be in touch with common friends. One of the best ways to cope with this is to go on a social media detox for a short while and focus on oneself.

4. Indulge in a hobby

Our generation needs to understand that end of a relationship doesn’t mean the end of life. Instead of thinking about their ex, one can indulge in their favorite activity. If you enjoy art, join a painting class; if you love dancing, go to a dance class, and invest time in yourself. Self-care is crucial to cope with heartbreaks. So after a breakup make time for things you love. While the relationship may have been an important one, our lives are bigger and there can be so much more to life beyond it.

5. Maintain a schedule

We all go through the post-breakup phase, where we want to lay down all day thinking about the rosy past and wallow in self pity. But the truth is, laying down won’t help us to heal. A schedule, workouts, healthy breakfasts and focusing on things beyond the past can work wonders for healing post-breakup trauma. Give yourself time to get back up, by all means. But be mindful when you feel that it’s taking over your life and take steps in the right direction.

6. Stay in touch with family and friends

It may not easy, but post-breakup we should consider sharing our feelings with our loved ones. When friends and family care and want to help us, we should embrace it instead of rejecting them. In difficult times, sharing our sorrow can ease our pain and help us to deal with difficult emotions.

Close-up of woman sitting on sofa and holding someone's hand to show care and concern much needed after a relationship breakup.
Turning to family and friends can prove to be very healing and helpful

However, sadly not all of us can share our feelings or breakup stories with families. In such cases, we should reach out to our friends. Instead of isolating ourselves from our family, we should try to talk to them about their lives and other things that could make us happy.

To conclude…

People change and heartbreaks happen. Unfortunately, not every story has a happy ending. The end of a relationship can actually help us grow as individuals and be the start of a new chapter in life. But the experience can be overwhelming and painful. Instead of fearing the negative experience, one should learn to reach out, engage in self-care, and most importantly love and accept oneself.

While it’s natural to feel sad, one should seek professional help if the person is unable to shake off the sadness and it starts interfering with routine tasks for a prolonger period of time.

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Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational and educational purposes only. Lokyatha has observed best effort due diligence and all health related content is reviewed by a trained professional before publishing. However, this should not and can not replace personalized medical help. Please refer to a professional in all cases of need.

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Arnold Mascarenhas

Lokyatha is an education focused initiative to enable young adults to live better, more fruitful lives by delivering real world life skills.