Unrequited love & depression

Romantic rejection can cause misery in even the most self-confident person. But sometimes the misery takes on a life of its own. There are noticeable distinctions between healthy heartache and the deep trenches of depression, but symptoms may be ignored too long. Pay attention to your emotional roller-coaster. It is healthy to feel sad after a break-up or an unsuccessful date. After all, emotions are meant to be felt. Yet if you find yourself avoiding friends and drowning in destructive thoughts, your negative emotions may be more than you can handle alone.

Is It Unrequited Love?

Unrequited love is a love that is not reciprocated. A mother can experience unrequited love for her resentful daughter who refuses to visit; a friend can feel unrequited love towards another friend. However, the term is most commonly used in association with romantic relationships and the suffering one endures when romantic feelings are not returned.

Despite our attempts to avoid it, thoughts of unrequited love are everywhere. There are thousands of representations of it in pop culture. Music and other art forms tends to romanticise lovesick depression and can raise our expectations.

Is it Depression?

Anyone can suffer depression, but diagnosis is difficult. Sufferers are often embarassed to come forward because they do not want to seem weak; however, the symptoms can become debilitating if ignored. According to the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred), depression not only clouds the mind with bad thoughts, it also weakens the body. Having trouble eating or being physically incapable of getting out of bed in the morning are just two of many common depression symptoms.

Decreasing Risks

When love is not reciprocated, one of our first instincts is to numb our feelings. For this reason, unrequited love leads to increased alcohol and drug use. In February 2008, David Brendal, M.D., from the McLean Hospital, told ABC News that self-medicating oneself with alcohol, marijuana or cocaine serves as a quick fix for larger problems. It can give temporary relief but intensifies the overall problems. Hangovers and withdrawal symptoms can prolong the depressed mental state and make the symptoms worse.

Can It Be Cured?

iFred studies report that depression is curable in 80 per cent of cases. However, this figure is based on the assumption that the sufferer is reaching out for help. After a bout of unrequited love, it may take some time for a distraught lover to bounce back from the failed relationship. Speaking with a doctor can help break down symptoms and quicken the healing process.

Coming to terms with unrequited love is an unpleasant experience. Nobody wants to dwell on the pain, but it is good to analyse distressful events in our lives with experienced medical professionals. It makes it easier to keep positive and move on to future love prospects with a healthy view of the world.

Share the Love

Love—unrequited or not—is a learning experience. If you've experienced depression after a break-up or watched friends become casualties of the illness, you will recognise the symptoms. The organisation SAVE, founded to help prevent suicide and raise awareness of depression, states that discussion of depression is repressed due to social stigmas surrounding it. Sufferers of depression are afraid to appear weak and do not want to speak out. Encourage loved ones to talk to someone, and do not belittle their emotions. Unrequited love can cause a downward spiral emotionally for just about anyone. Depression awareness can lower suicide rates and make our lives healthier and happier.

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About the Author

Melissa Skepko began writing and editing in 2006. As the assistant editor for technology at Cengage Learning, she has edited many products for ESL teachers and students, such as "Grammar Cafe" and the ELT Advantage series. Skepko received her Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic language and literature from Boston University, where she graduated with distinction for her thesis on identity in Mexican literature.