At What Point During a Breakup Should you Consider Counseling?

Last updated on October 30th, 2023 at 10:59 pm

Breakups are hard - mentally and physically. We all go through them, but it's important to recognize when normal mourning over the loss of a relationship gives way to a serious mental health issue.

Being on the receiving end of a breakup you never saw coming can be devastating. We’ve all been through it. It’s part of the human experience. And most of us get through it over time with the support of family and friends. Counseling is common for those going through divorces or serious breakups.

There are lots of ways to cope with a breakup, but what happens when all that support isn’t enough to get you back to your normal self? Sometimes in life, you need to talk to a professional. Here’s how you’ll know it’s time for a real counseling session.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255

Young woman in her apartment at night can't sleep
Inability to sleep can affect your mental and physical health.

You Haven’t Slept in Over a Week

The importance of sleep simply can’t be overstated. A good night’s sleep helps to alleviate anxiety & fear, both of which are common emotions experienced during a breakup. Your physical and mental health relies on your body’s ability to sleep.

When your breakup experience disrupts your sleep, it also disrupts your ability to cope. If you go for an entire week without a single good night’s rest, it might be time to talk to a counselor.

You’ve Lost Your Appetite

While emotional stress can cause some appetite changes, being unable to eat entirely is dangerous. Your body needs fuel. Your mind needs fuel. Counseling may be in order if you’re experiencing a sudden drop in weight due to not eating. Keep a close eye on the scale.

Hydration is also a key factor. Dehydration can result in a trip to the ER and potentially be life-threatening. If you’re losing weight fast (1-2 lbs/day), there’s a good chance it’s through dehydration.

Lingering Feelings of Self-Doubt & Loss of Self-Worth

The rejection that comes from a breakup is hard to handle. It can leave you feeling worthless and unloved. Worse yet, those feelings can spiral into the idea that you’re unlovable at all. These types of feelings, if they don’t recede within a couple weeks, need to be addressed with counseling.

Counselors and online therapists are trained in helping people overcome these emotions. Building your self-esteem back up after a hard rejection is critical to your healing and being able to move on with your life.

You Go Days Without a Single Pain-Free Moment

Even in our worst emotional trials, there are little pinpoints of light. It could be a half-second laugh with a good friend where you shortly forget how bad you’ve been feeling or a brief meditation where you’re able to focus on something besides your breakup.

These fleeting moments are the sunrays of mental healing. Even in my worst breakups, I’ve had moments like these within the first few days. The pain returns shortly after, but these moments are what makes me realize that life can be normal again.

man with guitar

You Find No Relief in Activities You Enjoy

I’m a writer and I enjoy writing. I’m also learning to play the guitar. Most of the time, I’m not getting paid to do it; I write because I love writing. I love the creativity. And this love of writing is independent of my relationship status. So if I ever found myself in a breakup where I suddenly don’t love writing, it would be time for counseling.

The power of the things we love is that they define us outside of our relationships. Losing that definition because of a breakup can be mentally destabilizing and can make you feel as if you’ve lost your identity.

You’re Self-Medicating with Drugs or Alcohol

Sure going out an partying it up once in a while can be a good way to momentarily forget about your problems. That’s why Happy Hour is a thing right?

But while a drink or two might be ok to take the edge off, it doesn’t really help you move on. And it can be downright dangerous. Alcohol and drug addiction is a serious problem that can threaten your livelihood and your life.

If you find yourself needing a drink (or some other drug) every time you think about your ex, it’s time to seriously consider a real counseling session with a professional. A detox might even be in order.

Counseling vs. Emergency Help

While counseling can help you get through a rough breakup, it’s important to understand when you might actually be in danger. If you have serious thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, it’s critical that you get help right away.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255

Counseling & Therapy for a Breakup: Final Thoughts

While many of us are able to move on from a serious breakup within a few months, it’s important to take action if you can’t get your life back on track.

Every breakup is different and they’re full of complicated emotions and feelings. There’s no reason to think yourself abnormal for needing help dealing with it. It could be the best thing you do to get over that lousy ex.

Sources & Additional Reading:

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

Psychology Today: 7 Mistakes You Need to Avoid After a Breakup

Bolde: Seeing a Therapist After My Breakup Was The Best Thing I Could Have Ever Done For Myself

Elite Daily: I Went To Therapy After a Breakup And It Helped me Move On

The Guardian: Do I Need Therapy to Get Over an Ex?

Alex Michaels
Freelance Writer

I'm a freelance writer from Israel. I like to write about just about anything. English is my 2nd language so please forgive me if my writing isn't perfect.

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