Though not a true clinical condition, relocation depression informally refers to a person experiencing an adjustment disorder.
Moving for school, work, or other reasons can be a stressful situation for a person. The stress can become overwhelming and trigger changes in a person’s mental health.
A person may experience depression-like symptoms that affect their sleep, appetite, and other aspects of their personal and emotional well-being.
This article reviews what relocation depression is, its possible symptoms, and more.
Relocation depression refers to depression symptoms that occur due to moving or relocating from one location to another.
Relocation depression is a colloquial term to describe an adjustment disorder. It does not have diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition text revision (DSM-5-TR).
Adjustment disorders refer to a collection of behavioral or emotional symptoms that occur due to a known stressor. In the case of relocation depression, the stressor is moving.
- A person has marked distress out of proportion to the event.
- Symptoms interfere with social, work, or other life functions.
In the case of relocation depression, a person may experience depression-like symptoms, which could include:
- overwhelming sadness
- loss of appetite
- weight loss or gain
- feeling emptiness
What separates relocation depression from clinical depression is that the symptoms will typically clear within a few months. If they do not, a person should consider seeing a doctor about their continuing symptoms.
Relocation sadness vs. depression
Relocation sadness generally refers to a person having occasional feelings of sadness regarding their move. Most people who move will likely experience some sadness leaving behind familiar areas, friends, work, family, or other things they will miss.
Depression indicates a
Symptoms of relocation depression can vary. A mental health professional will likely look for symptoms similar to clinical depression, which
- irritability and increased anger
- changes in appetite
- difficulty concentrating
- sleeping too much or too little
- feeling sad, numb, or hopeless
- loss of interest in usual hobbies and passions
- physical aches and pains that are otherwise unexplained
- loss of interest in socializing
- thoughts or plans of suicide or self-harm
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
A person may also feel like they made a mistake by moving, second guess themselves, or feel regret over their move.
Clinical depression and situational depression may present with the same symptoms.
The main differences
- Relocation depression symptoms should clear within 6 months of the stressor.
- A known trigger, like moving, caused symptoms to occur.
- Clinical depression has diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5-TR, whereas situational depression occurs due to a specific stressor.
Both may require similar treatments.
Due to a lack of data, it is not clear who is most likely to experience relocation depression.
According to a
- younger age
- lower educational level
- being single
- coming from an urban area
Several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing depression. Evidence suggests that depression may result from a combination and possible interaction of different factors,
- psychological factors
Having risk factors for either disorder does not necessarily mean a person will develop relocation depression. A person with no risk factors could develop the condition when moving to a new location.
A person can take several steps to manage relocation depression.
A person with relocation depression may benefit from medications to treat depression while their symptoms last. Medications, such as antidepressants,
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a common and often effective treatment for depression. Sessions with a mental health professional allow a person to discuss their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and other issues with a trained professional.
A person can also take steps to help manage their relocation depression on their own. This can include:
- getting enough sleep
- eating a healthy and balanced diet
- regular exercise or physical activity
- taking steps to manage stress
- keeping a journal
getting outinto nature
For more research-backed information and resources on mental health and well-being, please visit our dedicated hub.
A person may not be able to prevent relocation depression. An individual could try one of the following strategies to help with feeling depressed following a move:
- Take time to connect with family and friends.
- Take time to grieve the former home, location, friends, and other aspects of the previous location.
- Find new things to enjoy about the new home or town.
- Create a routine.
- Reach out for help if needed for mental health or other aspects of well-being.
- Take steps to make the new house or apartment feel like home.
- Join groups and organizations to find new friends and connections.
Relocation depression is a type of adjustment disorder where a person experiences symptoms associated with depression. Though not a clinical diagnosis, identifying it can help guide successful treatment.
Relocation depression may improve with treatments geared toward depression. A person may also benefit from taking steps at self-care, including getting enough sleep, eating a healthful and balanced diet, and getting regular exercise.
A person should consider speaking with a doctor or mental health professional if they have persistent feelings of sadness following a move that interferes with their daily life and routines.