You've poured all your energy into the wedding for months or years, and you've gone through the entire process of hiring, buying, renting, and returning everything imaginable. Now, you're starting to feel blue. Is post-marriage depression a real phenomenon, or is it all in your head?
Good news: one in ten brides reports feeling post-marriage depression, and it's likely this number is underreported. You're not alone, and brides in particular tend to suffer from it, though grooms may also feel a bit of this sadness.
Here's what you need to know about post-marriage depression.
What causes post-marriage depression?
Like any form of depression, it's hard to know exactly what causes post-marriage depression. One factor seems to be the difference between brides who looked to the wedding as their big goal and those who looked at the wedding as the beginning of a new chapter in life. If you've been preparing for the wedding like some would cheer on an end-zone run in their favorite sports, it's no wonder you're feeling blue.
Another cause can be the events associated with the wedding. If you're planning a honeymoon, you can be stressed out about it; if you have already returned from it, the disappointment of returning to your own home and normal life again can be tremendous! Perhaps you and your new spouse are now living together for the first time. Depression can certainly result from the changed living conditions, even if you're happy living with your new spouse.
How can I prevent post-marriage depression?
If you haven't yet held your wedding, it's smart to be looking ahead to what you can expect after the wedding—good for you! There are plenty of things you can do to help prevent post-marriage depression, though there are no guarantees.
First, remain grounded as you plan your wedding. Remember to keep looking past the wedding to your future plans and the everyday things that matter to you, rather than pouring all your energy into the wedding every day. This complete focus will leave a gap after the wedding, so avoid being completely absorbed by the process.
During the wedding and afterwards, remember that your moment might be here, but you will not remain the center of attention. While you can enjoy it, try not to get used to it! Highlight those around you and their contributions and achievements. Sometimes, that can feel even better than being the center of attention.
Finally, try to share the burden. Not only will this prevent you from being completely absorbed in the wedding or from being the center of attention, but it will make sure you don't become a "bridezilla" who alienates friends and family. These people around you will be your crucial support after the wedding, too.
How can I alleviate post-marriage depression?
If you've already found yourself missing the whirlwind of planning and excitement, or feeling blue without really knowing why, you can still recover from post-marriage depression by yourself. The most obvious step to take is to seek out a therapist if the depression continues or if you feel like you need to see a professional; you're not the first to suffer from post-marriage depression, and you won't be the last!
You can first try to shift the planning and creativity-based activities to something else. Weddings involve a tremendous amount of both, and this satisfies both left-brain and right-brain types. You could plan your career or take up a new form of arts and crafts. Learn to paint, take a course in Excel spreadsheets, or help a friend get organized with their graduate school courses!
Have you considered taking up a new hobby? You may have had to drop hobbies in order to make time for the wedding, so now is the perfect time to pick them back up. Don't give in when the temptation to spend the extra time watching TV hits—it will only feed into the depression. Instead, get involved in something. You could join a social club, take up a solo hobby, or begin exercising daily. In fact, exercise is one of the best remedies for depression.
Something else to consider is whether you need downtime or something to do. If hobbies and getting out don't appeal, and you don't feel like you're dissatisfied right now, it's all right to take some downtime and coast along for a bit. It's only a problem if you're not happy with how things are going and don't feel like you have any energy to change the situation.
How can I set new goals to recover from this type of depression?
Assuming there aren't underlying biological or medical causes for your depression, you may be able to treat it by simply shifting your focus and your goals. Instead of planning for a wedding, take a look at the things you've always wanted to do. The things that keep you awake at night. The things that make you daydream about how you could ever possibly make them work. (Yes, that thing! Write it down.)
Perhaps you want to run a half-marathon, write a book, travel to 50 countries, collect quarters from every US state, or start a charity. Whatever that dream was that you forgot about in the rush of planning the wedding, bring it into the front of your mind again and start planning.
Plan big! Don't just idly think about it now and again. Create a deadline that forces you to get creative like your wedding did (those favors didn't come in time, and then you had to learn to sew in time and successfully made a hundred favor bags by yourself!), then throw yourself into the project. Use checklists and spreadsheets, tell all your friends about the deadlines, create small steps, and recruit your friends' help.
There's absolutely no reason you should have to suffer from post-marriage depression. If the depression persists, talk to a professional, and remember to confide in your new spouse, friends, and family. Your support system is always the best of you, and they can be a source of comfort and joy as you shift your focus from the wedding to your new life ahead.