“What? Depression after cheating on someone? Like that’s even real!” scoffed some members of my girl gang. After experiencing and witnessing tons of heartbreaks since high school, it was not easy for any of them to digest the ‘concept’. They felt that being cheated on is the worst feeling ever, and that’s why only the victim has the right to feel depressed. The cheater must only repent!
Depression after being cheated on is considered common. People are willing to sympathize with the person feeling worthless after being cheated on, as they should. But accepting that a person can suffer from depression after cheating on someone is not easy for most people. “Do cheaters get depressed?” or “Can guilt of cheating cause depression?” are common questions that people ask. These queries hint at the selective feelings of sympathy/empathy we all have.
Cheating and depression are closely linked to one another. No matter who cheated on whom, depression after cheating on someone or feeling suicidal after infidelity are REAL issues that cheaters go through after having betrayed their partner. People often forget to take a cheater’s feelings into consideration while passing unsolicited judgements. And sadly, this pushes an individual further into the dark abyss of guilt, shame, and regret.
Depression after cheating on someone is not at all easy to tackle. Almost everyone around you is busy sympathizing with your partner. Whereas, if you’re filled with remorse, you have no idea how to deal with the constant pangs of guilt and shame. But we are here to help you process and work through all your negative feelings and thoughts.
To help you deal with this complicated issue of depression after cheating on someone, we curated some expert tips and advice from life coach and counselor Joie Bose, who specializes in counseling people dealing with abusive marriages, breakups, and extramarital affairs. But before we delve into her tips and insights, let’s see how the guilt and shame of cheating on someone is related to depression.
Does Cheating Cause Depression?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the onset of depression is more complex than a mere chemical imbalance in the brain. Researchers suggest that depression of any kind doesn’t only stem from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Stress has its own physiological consequences, which may give rise to the feelings of depression and anxiety. While going through depression after being cheated on is taxing, feeling ashamed of cheating on someone can be equally exhausting. Especially when you cheat on someone you love.
You may ask, can guilt of cheating cause depression? Well, yes it can. Guilt after cheating can be considered a stressful life event and can trigger a chain of chemical reactions and responses in your body. These reactions can further affect your mood, causing an overwhelming series of negative feelings. These feelings may take the shape of constant dark thoughts, ultimately leading a person toward depression.
Going through depression after affair is hard but sometimes, it’s better to experience and feel all the emotions you are going through. It’s necessary for you to go through that phase of grief and self-contemplation. Once you accept your current state of mind, it might become easier for you to deal with depressive feelings after infidelity.
Related Reading: Infidelity: Should You Confess To Cheating On Your Partner?
7 Expert Tips To Cope With Depression After Cheating On Someone
When you are going through depression after cheating on someone or feeling suicidal after infidelity, it’s not easy to snap out of it or push yourself to act ‘normal’. Depression after affair might drain your energy, entangling you in an unending series of negative thoughts and feelings. It may become difficult for you to conduct day-to-day activities and you might feel hopeless and tired all the time.
You may feel that coping with cheating and depression is a nightmare to deal with. Motivating yourself to take the first step is one of the most difficult tasks. But it is that first step that will mark the start of your journey to recovery. Although this journey is not going to be easy or quick, your persistence is the only thing that will keep you going.
Coping with depression is not a linear cruise. You need to constantly analyze your internal as well as external thoughts and situations. You should be aware of your own feelings and find a way to forgive yourself and let go of all the guilt and shame after cheating on someone. Here are 7 expert tips that will come in handy while you are trying to cope with depression after cheating on someone:
1. Develop realistic thoughts about the situation
The first step to deal with depression after infidelity is to develop realistic thoughts. Overwhelming feelings of regret after cheating on someone can cloud your judgment. You may weigh your actions on the basis of societal expectations. However, there is always a reason for everything that an individual does.
Understanding that the world does not work on idealistic philosophies can help you analyze the entire situation objectively. Realizing why you cheated on someone you love can help you understand your actions better. This will show you that you are only human and bound to make mistakes. Make sure that your feelings of regret after cheating on someone do not jeopardize your mental health.
While addressing the point of maintaining realistic thoughts, Joie explains, “Cheating often results in guilt and when you are indulging in something under the covers – it’s very important to be clear as to why you are doing it. Once your reasons are clear, you will be able to take on the world. You may feel depressed after cheating and the high you had felt will become a low, but nothing is worth beating yourself up about.”
2. Accept appropriate level of responsibility
Once you have straightened out your reasons as well as analyzed the situations that compelled you to take a particular step, what’s left is to assume responsibility for the broken relationship. But, keep in mind, you need to accept responsibility for having cheated on your partner, but don’t ‘only’ blame yourself for the partnership going wrong.
Holding yourself solely responsible for the downfall of the relationship may not be the best idea. A lot of other factors might have contributed to this action of yours and punishing yourself for it might be unfair. Blame-shifting in the relationship might also not be the best option. But understanding that a relationship is based on the assumption of ‘shared responsibility’ might help you think better.
As Joie states, “There was a reason that you did it and that reason gets drowned later on. So please be clear to yourself about the reason that made you hide the new relationship, while maintaining a façade about the older one. You may feel bad about the situation that compelled you to cheat, but then again, you may not be the only person responsible for this situation.”
Related Reading: What To Do When Someone Lies In A Relationship
3. Acknowledge your feelings
To cope with depression after cheating on someone, it’s necessary for you to identify and accept your feelings. If you’re wondering “Do cheaters get depressed?” or “Is it possible for cheaters to experience depressive feelings after infidelity?”, understand that such questions of self-doubt may stop you from acknowledging your dark thoughts and feelings of sadness.
So, we asked Joie, “Do cheaters get depressed?” She said, “Yes, they do. When they are cheating, they feel attracted to a new person and at that point, the old person’s flaws are prominent in their mind. Later, the situation changes and the old person does something positive that the new person could never do. Or the new person does something negative that the old person would never even dream of doing. During these times, the cheater feels bad for cheating and having submitted to a momentary lapse of reason.”
Running away from the feelings of guilt or shame of cheating on someone cannot be the solution to any of your problems. Considering your actions and the causes for the same might bring up feelings of guilt, regret, or shame. But acknowledging that a weak moment does not amount to a complete lapse of who you are is crucial in coping with depression after cheating on someone.
4. Avoid getting ensnared in that ‘guilt-trap’
When you cheat on someone you love, the feelings of regret and guilt overpower your ability to think. Acknowledging that you have made a mistake could be the right thing to do in a situation like this. However, getting trapped in a constant state of guilt and shame is not good for your mental health and overall well-being.
Being stuck in the moment and replaying the events in your head is not going to help you. To overcome the overwhelming feeling of regret, you need to calm down. Usually, when people recognize their mistakes, they tend to see the situation irrationally. They are angry or shocked that they are capable of something like this, and end up believing that they can never do anything good ever again.
While explaining how guilt can do more harm than good, Joie says, “Guilt may make one feel incapable of being good or doing anything good, ever. This should never be the case and one needs to understand that people’s actions are dependent on circumstances. So, one should never let oneself seep into depression. This happens very often and is not healthy.”
5. Reach out
Reaching out is a skill that can help you save millions of tears, moments of anxiety, and a lot of time, while recovering from depression after cheating on someone. Not being able to face the people you love is a real issue, but trying to fight it all alone isn’t the best idea.
Staying close to your loved ones and talking to them doesn’t just keeps one from feeling worthless after being cheated on, but also helps those going through depression after cheating on someone. Joie says, “Know that human beings are capable of being anything they want to be. No matter how terrible a thing you have done, people who love you will always love you no matter what.”
Confiding in the people you love will help you release all the pent-up anger, negative emotions, and angst-ridden energies that have been piling up inside you. Opening up to them will provide you with some new and maybe surprising perspectives about your own capabilities.
6. Forgive yourself
There’s a famous saying that goes, “To err is human”. Realizing that mistakes are a part of life is important. No one is perfect and hence, finding a way to forgive yourself is the only way to redeem yourself from the throes of depression after cheating on someone. Letting go of all the self-hatred and embracing self-love is the only way toward forgiveness.
Joie says, “If you ask for forgiveness and truly repent your actions, promising never to tread that lane knowingly again, then you will be redeemed. You have to forgive yourself first. Then everyone will. Everything passes. Nothing is permanent except death. Circumstances, like seasons, change.”
Though the entire situation has left you broken, showing yourself some love and compassion can make things better for you. Life is a learning process and you are on a journey that will require you to face innumerable obstacles. But to deal with depression after infidelity, focusing on your mental health is of utmost importance.
7. Focus on the future and not on the past
You cannot take back what you have already done. You may have broken your partner’s trust or your relationship with them. But wallowing in this continuous guilt after cheating is not going to help you, or them. Shifting your thoughts from what has already happened to what you can do to make yourself feel better will help you deal with depression after infidelity.
It will also help you overcome the shame of cheating on someone you once/still loved. Figure out what compelled you to cheat on your partner in the first place. Analyze the situation and understand what can make your future relationships more fulfilling. See this as a learning curve and recognize what your expectations from a relationship are.
Find out the best way to communicate these expectations to your future partner(s). This will ensure that you don’t repeat your past mistakes since you have now learned what you didn’t know before. Make sure you put your thoughts forward clearly, so that you can begin your new relationship with a clean slate.
These seven expert tips to cope with depression after cheating on someone can help you find a way to deal with your feelings after infidelity. When you cheat on someone you love, you might hold yourself responsible for everything that might have happened. But adopting a realistic approach, as recommended by Joie, can help you fight through all the negative feelings of guilt, shame, and regret after cheating on someone.
If you have been going through something similar recently and are still struggling with its effects, we suggest you see a counselor. It’s important to get professional help at the right time in such situations. You can avail online expert counseling services with us, at Bonobology. Feel free to reach out to us and share this with anyone who you think might need it.