Tips To Help You Manage Post-Breakup Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated April 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Losing a close interpersonal connection can be scary, whether your relationship was long or short-term. Alongside the expected emotional distress, you may find symptoms of anxiety after a breakup. Taking time to process and understand these anxious feelings and emotions can be beneficial in healing them. Be patient with yourself as you grieve the relationship and come to terms with your new life. 

Research indicates that emotions are a physical and mental response in the brain that all humans experience. You aren’t alone in feeling afraid after a significant event, and emotions are often temporary. Although breakup distress or anxiety may feel never-ending, there could be hope around the corner.

Experiencing anxiety after a breakup?

Anxiety following a breakup

You might worry about various questions or ideas when figuring out how to deal with a breakup, especially if you are experiencing difficult emotions that impact your daily life in ways you weren’t expecting or haven’t experienced before. For example, you may ask yourself:  

  • “Should I get back together with my ex?”
  • “Will I feel like this forever?” 
  • “Is it normal to feel so anxious?”
  • “Why do I struggle to be alone?”
  • “Was leaving my ex the wrong choice?” 
  • "How do I deal with post-breakup anxiety?”
  • “Are intrusive thoughts normal after breakups?”

These types of thoughts can be natural. Although you may crave immediate relief from distressing thoughts and feelings, this moment might be valuable for introspection, self-reflection, and caring for your mental health. Anxiety after breakup conflicts or stress is not necessarily unhealthy, and there are ways to healthily cope with your breakup distress.

The end of a close relationship may leave you with the chance for a new beginning. Consider these moments a possibility for change or a time to reconnect with yourself. Feeling safe in your own company might ease some of the anxiety. 

Breakup anxiety signs

For many, time heals wounds. Though they may feel overwhelmed or experience emotional turmoil or a hit to their self-esteem post-breakup, they may find that time removes thoughts of their ex and their past romantic relationships. 

However, it can be normal not to experience this. For some individuals, a breakup can be a traumatic or scary event involving lots of sudden changes that can make moving forward challenging. They could have been with their partner for years or not know how to live outside of a romantic connection. After or during a breakup, you might experience panic attacks or symptoms of anxiety. As anxiety begins, especially persistent anxiety, it may also cause distressing physical symptoms.

If your anxiety does not diminish with time, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. According to experts and medically-reviewed sources, sadness and a panic disorder or Anxiety disorders may develop after stressful events. Treatment could benefit you if you are experiencing moderate or severe anxiety symptoms for a few months or more after your breakup. Some people may also experience other mental health conditions after a breakup, such as depression or social anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety can include but are not limited to: 

  • Constantly feeling anxious, nervous, or restless
  • A consistent sense of impending doom, panic, or danger
  • Strong physical symptoms including rapid breathing sweating and trembling
  • Fatigue
  • Negative thought patterns
  • Racing thoughts
  • Chronic health challenges, like headaches or inflammation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Panic attacks
  • Low self-confidence and high self-doubt
  • Constant or consistent worrying
  • Feeling the need to perform compulsions 
  • Intrusive thoughts (negative, often controversial unwanted thoughts or mental images that cause extreme distress) 
  • An urge to run or hide 

Though it may be normal to experience these symptoms for a few days or weeks after a breakup if you are still experiencing them months or years later, consider reaching out for help. Chronic anxiety is not your fault, and a mental health professional can help you find a treatment that works for you. If you experience medical challenges alongside your anxiety, reach out to a doctor for medical advice and tips. They can explain the medical associations of your mental and physical symptoms and recommend common medications or therapeutic treatments that match your needs.

What should I do for my mental health after a breakup?

Instead of immediately contacting your ex, take a step back and be with yourself. You may realize there is a reason the relationship ended. If you are experiencing breakup anxiety, ask yourself the underlying worry behind your fears. Many individuals feel anxious about the following: 

  • Being alone and not having emotional support
  • Organizing a life without your partner
  • Knowing whether you will find love again 
  • Distrust of other people
  • Feeling hated or ostracized by your ex 
  • Social rejection 
  • Losing friends, family, or pets due to the breakup 
  • Being able to work, study, or control life necessities 
  • Practicing self-care 
  • Feeling at fault for the breakup 
  • Wanting to change reality 

These worries can be normal. 64% of Americans have been through a breakup, and many have felt breakup anxiety. Although this is a studied fact, you may still feel anxious after losing your relationship. However, breaking up with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that your mental health will never recover. 

After experiencing the breakup, you may begin a healing process. You might think about why the relationship ended and remind yourself of the positive aspects of being single. When the “what if” fears start to grow and begin to show signs of anxiety attacks setting in, take a second to bring yourself back to the present moment and away from the thoughts of the breakup—focus on today.

What can you do today to help your well-being? Some peer reviewed studies say that spending time practicing mindfulness or journaling can be beneficial for staying in the present moment and reducing stress. Mindfulness meditation often involves spending a set amount of time, from ten minutes to upwards of an hour, focusing on your breathing and mental state to keep yourself fully in the moment and quell speculative thinking.

Is it normal to have anxiety after a breakup? Recognizing anxiety disorders

It can be 100% normal to experience anxiety following a romantic relationship breakup. Even if it is completely normal, it can be challenging to manage. If you feel anxious after ending a relationship, you might try spending time alone to get back in touch with yourself or practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to soothe your nervous system. 

If you struggle to sleep due to anxiety, consider guided sleep meditations. You might find one on Spotify or YouTube that works for you. Sleep meditations might make you feel that you aren’t alone and help guide you through mindfulness when you go to bed. Practicing mindfulness, including mindfulness meditation, may help you relax enough to fall asleep by calming your sympathetic nervous system, making physical symptoms of anxiety or anxiety disorders less intense.

If you find it challenging to manage your anxious thoughts, or if you are considering unhealthy habits, consider reaching out to a counselor. A qualified mental health professional may help you process your anxiety in a safe environment. They can help you recognize and get treated for anxiety disorders.

Finding support

Anxiety may last for a few days, weeks, or months. However, if your anxiety lasts a couple of weeks or more, it could indicate an anxiety disorder or underlying problem mental health concerns such as an anxiety disorder (including generalized anxiety disorder), post-traumatic stress disorder, or another underlying problem. This may be especially true if you have a pre-existing mental health condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder. Reach out to your primary care physician or mental health provider to discuss your symptoms in more detail. They can help you to move forward in your mental health journey with appropriate treatment and support.

Time for self-reflection 

Although it may be tempting, returning to dating and relationships immediately after a breakup may not be the healthiest choice. 

Right after the end of a relationship, you may feel uneasy about being alone again. You may feel that all the blame for the breakup is on you or that you aren’t ready to be alone. However, being alone can be healing. Learning to see yourself as a primary support figure who can care for you through any hardships may be valuable through future stress. Try to spend time with yourself by partaking in the following activities: 

  • Drawing or coloring
  • Creating art
  • Spending time in nature
  • Exercising or partaking in yoga
  • Practicing an instrument or singing
  • Listening to music alone and singing along 
  • Dancing alone in your house 
  • Playing with your pets
  • Journaling or writing a story
  • Playing a calming video game
  • Reading a book 
  • Cooking or baking 
  • Trying a mindfulness or guided meditation exercise 

Remember who you are outside of the relationship

Taking time to reflect on the relationship after it ends might allow you to learn more about yourself and what you value in interpersonal connections. Revisit the activities you enjoyed before your relationship ended and practice hygiene, such as showering, brushing your teeth, and eating healthy meals.

This time could be suitable for you to start an educational course or class, write a book, or start a blog. Immersing yourself in something other than your past relationship may help you see a future without your ex-partner’s involvement.

Avoid unhealthy choices for your mental and physical health 

You may have urges to partake in risky behaviors after a breakup to ignore your anxiety. However, try to be careful. You might make decisions that have lasting impacts on your mental health and well-being. 

Many people have made unhealthy decisions post-breakup to avoid their feelings or move on before they’re ready. Some of these decisions may include unsafe relations or partaking in substance use. These decisions could worsen anxiety or risk your physical health over time. 

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Take the time to make healthy choices for yourself - eat regularly with a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and try to stay active.

Moving On  

Following a breakup, it may feel comforting to consider getting back together with your ex-partner. However, these thoughts may not benefit you in the long term. 

Remember why the relationship may have needed to end 

Moving on when you are focused on the past may be difficult. The relationship might have ended for a reason. Try to remember what happened and why it may be healthier for you to be without your ex. 

Seek outside support

If you experience chronic mental health issues such as anxiety, the stress of a relationship ending may feel overwhelming or debilitating. Consider reaching out for support to a family member or trusted friend. You might reach out to family or friends who have supported you in the past, or you could contact a counselor to discuss your emotions about the breakup. 

Even if you were not previously diagnosed with a chronic mental illness, you might feel stressed, upset, or fearful after your breakup. If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, reach out to your mental health provider.

Utilize what you do have

At the beginning of a breakup, it may feel challenging to look beyond the present due to overwhelming feelings of loss and heartache. Because of this, your tunnel vision might only allow you to see the negativity of your situation.

Try redirecting your energy to other realities that feel comforting to you. For example, you may feel grateful for a friend or how your pets curl up at your feet at night. Joining support groups for people with social anxiety or stress might also benefit you. 

Practice gratitude 

Compile a list of things you’re grateful for. Writing a gratitude list and practicing optimism have been proven to boost your mental well-being and overall health. Doing so may allow you to take your mind off the relationship or any anxious thoughts and remind you of what you appreciate and love in your life

A gratitude list does not necessarily have to be filled with unusual or unique things. The things you are grateful for may be everyday items or situations. For example, you could be grateful to engage in activities like sunbathing, sleeping an hour late, or enjoying a delicious chocolate chip cookie. 

Utilize coping skills

Try to keep a balanced perspective of your relationship to prevent the aggravation of stress that can come from anxiety. During this time, partake in coping mechanisms proven to release anxiety. A few research-based coping techniques include: 

Experiencing anxiety after a breakup?

Online counseling for anxiety after a breakup

If you’re experiencing anxiety after a breakup, it may feel debilitating, isolating, or scary. However, support is available. For many going through a breakup, leaving home or scheduling appointments can be difficult. If you relate, online counseling might be a valuable option. 

Research has proven that mindfulness-based online cognitive-behavioral therapy is beneficial in treating anxiety symptoms. Participants showed significantly fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression after the study. Further studies note that people feel most comfortable at home, which may support the comfort felt by many individuals in online therapy.  

Licensed therapists may help you relieve emotional pain from dealing with post-breakup anxiety. If you’re ready to start, consider signing up for a platform such as BetterHelp. Online therapy platforms often offer a database of counselors to choose from, with the possibility of changing therapists if you don’t find a match immediately. 


Breakups can feel painful, but you don’t have to take on all the blame or pain and go through them alone. Friends, family, or counseling services may benefit you during this difficult period. Fear is an emotion, and your feelings may pass with time. However, if you are experiencing long-term anxiety or symptoms of a mental health condition, consider reaching out to a counselor for support. 

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment
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