Last week, Alexa Ray Joel made a New Year’s resolution: to fight a public battle on behalf of young women suffering from something she called “Heartbreak-Related Depression.” It was Joel’s own breakup that led her to nearly overdose on homeopathic medicine last month. At the time, we wondered whether there was such a psychological phenomenon as “Heartbreak-Related Depression.” But the mystifying provenance of the condition didn’t stop Joel from jumping right into the fight, responding quickly to fans on Facebook who professed to be victims. “I”m feeling better, and a huge part of what helps me to feel better is to help others get through what I’ve been through (and am still going through, in many ways — but it’s not nearly as bad as it was),” she wrote to one girl from Texas who told her that her “heart has been brutally broken beyond repair.”
And today, Joel got some backup in her crusade. Courtney Knowles, the executive director of the Jed Foundation (a group that works for suicide prevention and the reduction of emotional distress among students), sent out a letter supporting her efforts. “Research shows that relationship problems or breakups are often associated with suicidal behaviors in young people. It’s an issue that can’t be ignored,” Knowles wrote. “Relationship issues can worsen or bring about dangerous bouts of depression that can lead to harmful behaviors like substance abuse and suicide.” While many young people bounce back from this devastation, which is not officially classified, Knowles cautions that no one should be afraid to seek professional help.
So, heartbreak-related depression may not be in the DSM-IV, but it is, in fact, a thing!