Moving and Feeling Blue: Coping with Relocation Depression - Cover Image

Moving and Feeling Blue: Coping with Relocation Depression


Practically any major life change can put a strain on your mental health. Relocations often being very hectic, time-demanding, and stressful, can lead to symptoms of relocation depression like low mood, melancholy, loss of enjoyment, and fatigue. These feelings can be overwhelming, whether you’re moving to a new town, state, nation, or even just a few blocks away. Relocation depression can also affect your diet, sleeping habits, and your ability to concentrate, to mention only a few additional symptoms of relocation depression.

Depression counselling can be an efficient way to manage relocation depression, helping you deal with specific issues relating to moving as well as deeper psychological conflicts, making you more resilient in dealing with future issues.

Moving to a new home can be an exciting experience, one that feels like it can give you a fresh start and a new life. However, it’s not a walk in the park. The upheaval of leaving behind what’s familiar can bring unexpected emotional challenges. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the many faces of relocation depression, its signs and symptoms, and practical strategies to deal with this complex life transition. Read on to discover the first step towards overcoming relocation depression and embracing your new adventure!

Image of a person feeling lost among the many things to do while coping with relocation depression

Is Relocation Depression Real?

Defining Relocation Depression

Relocation depression is first of all an emotional response marked by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and disorientation, often triggered by the upheaval and adjustments that are brought about by moving to a new home.

It is absolutely real! Moving house is one of the most stressful event in a person’s life, and that stress can cause low mood. Depression is a global issue [1], with millions of people struggling with symptoms such as fatigue and melancholy. We want to assure you that this is a typical and natural response to significant life changes.

When relocating, many people experience anxiety and initial signs of depression. Depending on specific circumstances (such as having other stressors beside relocation, say relationship issues), these feelings may become even worse. For instance, changing towns for a new job comes with the additional stress of adjusting to your new work environment, meeting your new colleagues, etc. Moving to a new neighbourhood is often a stressful experience, and for some, it can trigger relocation depression — an informal term to describe an adjustment disorder.

Support from Scientific Evidence

Although some people may believe that relocation depression doesn’t exist, it’s very real, with numerous studies showing that following a relocation people are more likely to feel sad, stressed out, and anxious [2,3,4]. Here are some of the most important findings relating to mental health conditions and moving.

  • The longer you live in one place, the harder it will be to smoothly transition to a new home.
  • Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to feeling blue after moving, with one study reporting 76% of adolescent girls felt bad after moving away from home.
  • The same study found that the most used coping strategy was avoidance/escape. Needless to say, avoidance is often ineffective and counterproductive.

Understanding the emotional toll and the effects of relocation on both physical and mental health is very important. It’s not just about figuring out the logistics of moving; it’s the profound psychological impact it can have on individuals. Relocation depression, which can result in excessive stress, can have powerful effects on physical health, mental health, and emotional stress, which should not be ignored.

A person in between moving boxes wondering what's going on with them and if relocation depression is even real

What are the Symptoms of Relocation Depression?

Now that we’ve established that we’re talking about a known and common phenomenon, let’s take a look at how it shows up. If you’re depressed after moving into your new house, chances are you’ll notice some of these signs and symptoms. See if you can recognise any of them.

Mood and Emotional Changes

  • Persistent Bad Mood: Do small annoyances now quickly turn your mood sour? This could be a sign.
  • Loss of Interest: Perhaps you have stopped doing the things you love, like reading or gardening.

Appetite and Weight Changes

  • Eating Habits: You may notice you’re skipping meals or eating when you’re not hungry.
  • Weight Changes: Are your clothes fitting differently lately?

Sleep Disturbances

  • Insomnia: You might find yourself tossing and turning with thoughts of the move keeping you awake.
  • Hypersomnia: Perhaps you’re sleeping more, yet still feeling tired all the time.

Physical and Behavioural Signs

  • Physical Discomfort: Those frequent headaches or stomach troubles might be more than just random.
  • Social Withdrawal: You may feel like staying in more often, avoiding friends and social interactions.

Severe Mental Health Symptoms

  • Thoughts of Self-Harm: It’s not uncommon to experience thoughts of harming yourself if emotions are really overwhelming. If you notice this, it’s very important to seek support immediately.

Accompanying Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety often co-occurs with depression [5]. So you may also experience moving out anxiety, which can show up via:

  • Irrational Worries and Obsessions: For example, worrying that you’ve left your stove on.
  • Difficulties Concentrating: You might find it harder to focus at work or remembering daily tasks.
  • Physical Anxiety Symptoms: Notice your heart racing or breath shortening when thinking about the move? This is typical of anxiety.

As you can see, moving houses is more than just a physical transition; it can be a powerful emotional journey too.

If you recognise these symptoms of moving house anxiety or depression, it’s not a sign of weakness, but simply your body and mind telling you something’s going on about the move. It’s a reaction to a stressful transition. Acknowledging you’re experiencing a difficulty can be the first step to start working through it. Part of the reason why you may experience this is because of the role of change in our lives.

A person feeling sad while in the midst of unboxing and experiencing symptoms of relocation depression

The Role of Change in Relocation Depression

As humans, we do love our comfort zones, don’t we? So, when a big change happens, it can be quite overwhelming and stressful, and it’s normal to be resistant to it. Have you ever noticed how stepping out of your comfort zone, especially during a move, can stir a mix of excitement and anxiety?

Although relocation depression can be caused by the big changes that come with moving to a new town, a new city, or even a new country, reducing our resistance to it can make thing easier. Let’s have a look at how these big changes can impact our well-being and find effective ways of dealing with them.

Adjusting to New Surroundings

Settling in a new place after moving away from home can be tough, especially if you didn’t move just a few blocks away. Everything looks new; the space, the house, the area, and it can seem like you’re starting all over again.

Coping with relocation depression is first and foremost giving yourself time to acclimatise to your new environment and making new friends. How you adjust to the new context determines how quickly you’ll feel at home.

There are many ways to increase your adjustment speed. For example, If you like to exercise, it can be a good idea to find a local gym or running group to join. Or, if you’re into food, explore the local cuisine and try new restaurants. By taking active steps to immerse yourself in your new environment, you’re more likely to feel happier and more at home quickly.

Dealing with Financial Stress

Relocating isn’t just about packing boxes; it’s also about balancing the books. You might feel that financial pressures during a move can mount up quickly, from the cost of movers to the potential unexpected expenses. One way to deal with this is via creating a budget that covers all your moving expenses, and adding a little extra for those unexpected costs. It’s not just about numbers though, it’s about peace of mind.

If you know what to expect financially, you can alleviate the mystery and stress of the move, and put energy and focus on settling into your new home without financial worry.

Handling Time Management Issues

Imagine your time is like the rooms of your new home; it’s all about good organisation. With all the tasks that come with moving, having a schedule can save the day and make the whole process more predictable and anxiety free.

To do this, break down your tasks into manageable blocks, set deadlines, and tick them off one by one. Technology is your ally here: pick your favourite to-do app and input all those activities: as you gradually complete the tasks, you’ll feel a sense of achievement that will help you feel confident and lift your mood.

A person taking charge of their moving process and feeling more determined and confident having embraced the change

Coping Strategies for Relocation Depression

We’ve discussed how to recognise the signs and understand the role of change in relocation depression. This should give you a decent foundation, but it’s only one side of the coin. What next? How do you navigate these difficulties and find your way back to a sense of normalcy?

Here are some practical steps you can take to ease this transition:

Plan and Organise

Planning things is a great way to bring psychological balance. That’s because having a plan increases our level of confidence in our ability to cope with a stressor, including moving house. Here are a few pointers.

  • Moving Plan: Have you thought about making a detailed moving plan? It can really help to reduce the stress of the unknown. Ideally it should include a timeline and specific tasks.
  • Essentials First: Remember to set up your essential services first, like setting up electricity, water, and internet services. It’s comforting to have these familiarities in place.
  • Start Small and Early: By starting small but starting early, you can ensure you have enough time to get everything done. For example, reduce the amount of things to pack and move with you can make you feel freer and give you a sense of relief and accomplishment.
  • Plan for the First Day: A good idea is to pack a box with essential items you will need on your first day in your new home, like toiletries, a change of clothes, and basic kitchen supplies.

Explore Your New Area

One reason why people may feel depressed after moving into a new house is that they spend too much time inside!

Try to learn as many things as you can about your new place of living. Even though you’re not technically a tourist, you can look up local tourist attractions and check them out. You may find some thrilling or intriguing things to do that weren’t that close to your previous residence. Exploring new places, sights, coffeeshops can be a great way to meet new people and get to know the local way of living:

  • Find a good grocery store with fresh fruit and vegetables (not a giant supermarket)
  • Pick a nice coffee or bar
  • Stumble upon an good hiking route
  • Find the city’s best library
  • Identify a nice gym or fitness centre

Customise Your New Home

To counteract the stress of moving and cope with relocation depression, you can place your authentic decorations around the house that give you a sense of serenity and comfort, once you’ve finished unpacking your boxes. Consider buying a few items to liven up your surroundings and create a new house feel, in case you didn’t bring any with you. Things like:

  • New pillows
  • Paintings
  • Shelves decoration items
  • Photos of friends and family
  • New lamps

Create Your Own Support Network

Link up with people who live in your new town. There are many activities you should consider, such as:

  • Literary clubs
  • Sports teams
  • Dance groups
  • Charity organisations
  • Hiking groups

Developing a Positive Attitude

One way to deal with the emotional stress of relocation is by keeping an open mind and focusing on the positive aspects of your new situation. Think of this as an opportunity for personal growth and new adventures. You can try to:

Replace Negative Thoughts: If you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll never fit in here,” see if you can shift to, “This is a chance to meet new people and learn new things.”

Practice Mindfulness: Dedicate a few minutes each day for meditation, focusing on the sensations of your new environment, which can ground you in the present moment.

Maintain Well-being: Join a local fitness class or explore parks in your new area to stay active. Regular physical activity is a proven mood booster.

Set Personal Goals: See if you can have the target to visit a new place in town each week, or start a project like decorating a room in your new home. Achieving these goals can provide a sense of progress and control.

A group of movers handling a sofa and other boxes to help someone cope with their relocation depression

Importance of Self-Care in Managing Relocation Depression

Self-care is a really important aspect of maintaining balance and improving our mental health. This is especially true if you’re struggling emotionally or psychologically, including due to a move. Here are some ways in which you can improve your self care in relation to your move.

Cultivating Joy in Your New Environment

Discovering simple pleasures in your new surroundings can greatly enhance your mood. Start your day with a routine that uplifts you, such as reading, journaling, or meditating. In the evenings instead you could go for a nice walk to familiarise yourself with your neighbourhood or unwind with a hobby. These small acts of joy can lead to significant improvements in your overall well-being.

Establishing a Healthy Lifestyle Routine

Body and mind are strongly connected. So when one isn’t doing great, the other will respond similarly. Try to integrate a balanced diet and exercise into your routine.

You could prepare a new, healthy recipe or go for a run or brisk walk to a nearby park. If you enjoy sports, look for community leagues or groups that play basketball, football, or any sport you love. Making these activities a part of your regular schedule can give you structure and increase social connections, which in turn will boost your mood!

Leveraging Local Resources for Well-being

Wherever you move to, there will be some local resources, try to take advantage of them to improve mental health. For example, there may be a library that hosts book clubs, a community center where you can take up a class, or parks to practice yoga or have a nice picnic. When you take part in these community activities you’ll have a change to meet new people and make new friends, and start to anchor yourself to your new environment. Psychologically this will help by associating the new context to positive emotions and experiences.

A person feeling in control and at ease having prevented relocation depression

Prevent Moving Depression and Anxiety by Relocating Efficiently

It is wise to start planning as soon as possible so you’ll be less dazzled when you start living in a new house. These additional tips will also help you feel less anxious about moving out, boosting your working plan with more clarity and less ambiguities:

  • Label your boxes: that way you won’t have to go through each and every one to find the things you need.
  • Find help: moving alone is not easy, so call in a few friends to help you pack. Friends’ help is great (if not needed!) for moving heavier objects, and that way you’ll even save some money. Besides, moving can be really fun when done with some good friends.
  • Take your time: you don’t have to do everything at once. Remember your priorities list.

Creating a detailed schedule will help you start packing on time, transfer utilities efficiently, and complete other important duties as you’re moving. You’ll get a sense of accomplishment when you cross things off your list, and in turn this will increase your confidence and sense of control.

Seeking Professional to Cope with Relocation Depression

It’s perfectly okay to seek professional help when coping with relocation depression, whether it was a local move or a long-distance move. A mental health professional, like a therapist or counsellor, can give you support and strategies tailored to your unique situation, helping you navigate this transition more smoothly.

These days many people choose online therapy to see a professional, which can come in handy when you’re moving to a new home. The right therapist can help you process the feelings of upheaval and overwhelm you’re experiencing and together build a new sense of normalcy in your new environment.

Ready to take the first step towards feeling more like yourself again? Get in Touch!

Someone with Relocation Depression finally deciding to seek professional help


Whether you are relocating to a house just across the road or to a completely new nation, moving can be stressful. Moving being a major life event, relocation depression frequently develops as a result.

Do not forget to give yourself the due credit for going through the whole stress and hubbub of changing residences. Moving to a new location required a lot of planning and execution included hard physical labour. You’ve had the strength to move, and you’ll have the strength to overcome these challenges as well. In this article, we’ve mentioned some tips that can help you do just that.

However, If you want to work on your issues with a mental health professional, get in touch with us for a free 15-minute consultation; you’ll be able to choose your therapist, decide whether you want an in-person or online therapy, and start making changes to improve your life as soon as possible.

Are you navigating the emotional challenges of moving home? Let us support you through this transition.


[1] Reddy, M. S. (2012). Depression–The global crisis. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 201-203.

[2] Martin, R. (1995). The effects of prior moves on job relocation stress. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 68(1), 49-56.

[3] Puskar, K. R., & Ladely, S. J. (1992). Relocation stress in adolescent females: Depression, anxiety and coping. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 1(3), 153-159.

[4] Brown, A. C., & Orthner, D. K. (1990). Relocation and personal well-being among early adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 10(3), 366-381.

[5] Luik, A. I., Bostock, S., Chisnall, L., Kyle, S. D., Lidbetter, N., Baldwin, N., & Espie, C. A. (2017). Treating depression and anxiety with digital cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia: a real world NHS evaluation using standardized outcome measures. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 45(1), 91-96.

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