You just got married and suddenly find yourself feeling irritable, sad, listless, or hopeless? It may be post-wedding depression, but it can be managed.
Depression is a mental health condition that involves symptoms like hopelessness, a sense of worthlessness, lack of motivation, trouble focusing, negative thinking, and difficulty enjoying your usual activities. So, you ask yourself, “How could I feel like that after my long-awaited wedding?”
Experiencing guilt because of your low mood after your wedding is common. In many cultures, marriage is portrayed as a mandatory happy time.
In reality, a new marriage can involve several meaningful changes and the start of a new life stage. This could impact your mood, and in some cases, you could experience symptoms of depression. But feeling this way could also mean something else.
Sadness isn’t the only depression symptom
The DSM-5-TR establishes that sadness or low mood is one potential symptom of depression, but not the only one or a requirement. In depression, you may also feel hopeless, overwhelmed, or empty, even if you’re not sad.
You may also not show or experience intense emotions during depression. A lack of interest, or joy, in other people or activities can also be a symptom of clinical depression.
Experiencing symptoms of depression isn’t the same as having post-wedding blues.
When you experience depression, your symptoms may be significantly impairing, last for more than 2 weeks, and often require the support of a mental health professional. Depression also often involves a combination of complex causes.
Post-wedding blues tend to be more situational and short-lived. You may feel nostalgic, sad, bored, or not motivated for a few days, and this could be directly linked to:
- how the wedding went
- the challenges of the new marriage
- a sudden “loss” of your wedding-focused activities
“Most commonly, people feel post-wedding blues as the letdown of stress and anticipation of wedding planning gives way to making a significant life transition,” says Dr. Janelle S. Peifer, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor out of Richmond, Virginia. “During this time, people may feel listless, overwhelmed, or even experience some regret.”
You might also feel post-wedding blues as you return to less exciting everyday chores, bills, and job responsibilities. You may feel like you no longer have something exciting to look forward to.
Peifer adds that post-wedding blues can be complicated, however, by pre-existing mental health conditions like major depressive disorder, commonly referred to as clinical depression.
Post-wedding blues typically don’t last longer than 2 weeks and symptoms tend to gradually resolve on their own.
Depression is a mental health disorder featured in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR). This is a popular handout used by most mental health professionals in the United States to provide accurate diagnoses.
If you’ve experienced symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions, it’s possible that a wedding or new marriage could intensify some of your symptoms.
The stress of long-term marriage commitments, like shared schedules, diminished private time, and a lost sense of individuality can suddenly feel overwhelming now that you’ve said your vows.
According to Dr. Heather Browne, a psychotherapist from Garden Grove, California, challenges related to new co-habitation can also be stressful in a new marriage.
“It can feel like your partner doesn’t want you or love you as you wish or thought they would and that can cultivate anger, resentment, and depression,” she says.
Transitioning to a new life stage may also lead to signs of an existential crisis.
Depression lasts longer than 2 weeks. Symptoms may not improve on their own and often intensify without treatment.
Experiencing a sense of loss after your wedding is also natural and common. In some instances, you may think you’re experiencing depression, but it could actually be situational grief.
Grief is a natural emotional response to the loss of something or someone dear to you.
It’s possible to experience post-wedding grief.
You could be grieving the attention, excitement, and sense of purpose that organizing a wedding can offer. All the planning and enthusiasm of the gown, reception, family gatherings, and rituals are now behind and you’re confronted once more with a usual or new daily routine.
“Significant — even joyous — life transitions come with loss,” says Peifer. “As we go off to college, we also start to release our childhood. With a new baby, we recognize a change in our relationship with freedom and spontaneity. Similarly, after [a wedding], you may grieve some of your independent identity.”
It’s natural to feel some grief as you move from unmarried to married life. Along with parts of your independence, you may be leaving behind family living situations, pets, possessions, or routines.
“How do I know what’s happening to me?”
If you’re concerned or intrigued about how you’re feeling, and you’ve been experiencing this mood for 2 or more weeks, it’s highly advisable that you reach out to a mental health professional.
Only they can provide an accurate diagnosis and guide you to the best course of action.
Untreated depression often leads to more intense feelings, so it’s recommended you find support.
Both post-wedding blues and post-wedding depression can be managed. You can feel better and you’re not alone.
Besides getting the support of a professional, depression self-care can also help. Here are some other coping tips:
Communicating with your partner
Post-wedding depression or blues can be challenging for both partners. By being open about what you’re feeling, you can work as a team to find solutions.
Peifer says it may be beneficial to seek therapy together to help lay a solid foundation for the rest of your marriage.
Maintaining parts of your unmarried life
If your post-wedding emotions involve a sense of loss of family, routines, or friends, Peifer encourages you to keep up with aspects from that part of life that bring you joy.
“Love Friday night movie nights with your best friends? Maintain them,” she suggests.
Setting a new goal
The excitement of planning a big wedding doesn’t have to be gone forever. There are many other opportunities to set a goal, plan for it, and work toward a “big day.”
Competitions and team events can be something you and your partner work toward together.
You may also find joy and excitement in:
- planning a family vacation
- organizing a housewarming party
- creating a way to track your new family’s expenses
- saving to purchase a new home
- preparing a first-year wedding anniversary
- remodeling or redecorating your home
- celebrating your partner’s first birthday as your spouse
You’ve had your “Big Day” and now you’re feeling low. Is it grief, depression, or the blues? Low motivation, a sense of hopelessness, and fatigue may be signs of any of these. Only a mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis.
Besides professional support, open communication with your partner, new goals, and keeping connected to some of your old routines can help.
Depression is a mental health condition but it’s possible to manage symptoms and find relief.