How to deal with a pesky therapy hangover

illustration of woman lying on sofa and looking at phone

Take some time to rest and digest (Picture: Getty/

I hate it when therapy sessions end.

Not because of the therapy itself, but because of how I feel afterwards: drained, depressed, possibly nursing a headache, too mixed-up to focus on my work, and feeling a strong desire to curl up under my duvet and hide from the entire world for the rest of the day/week/century.

In other words, I get what’s known as a therapy hangover.

If you’ve experienced similar feelings, then you’re far from an outlier. Just Google ‘therapy hangover’ and you’ll see how common these symptoms are, as counsellor and psychotherapist Fiona Corbett explains.

‘Therapy is a process of exploration, clarification and processing of feelings, relationships and experiences, so following the session it’s normal to feel the impact of this,’ Fiona tells

‘You might be trying to process a realisation or a perspective. Perhaps you’re feeling a feeling intensely in a way you haven’t previously.

‘You may feel drained by the processing you’ve done, or want to be alone to cope with the thoughts or feelings arising from the session.’

Luckily, while these ‘thangovers’ might be annoying, they’re also short-lived – and there are plenty of ways you can stop them from derailing the rest of your day.

Firstly, you should not do what I’ve been doing and try to jump back into work or studying straightaway. Instead, set aside time for a well-deserved break.

‘My coping strategy is to book in an hour after therapy sessions, to decompress,’ explains SEO consultant Natalie Arney. ‘And if that hour’s not enough, obviously I can’t cancel the day – but I’ll give myself a treat to look forward to, like getting a takeaway.’


As for how you spend that decompression time, it’s a good idea to recharge your brain with something relaxing and low-key.

‘If I’m feeling symptoms of a therapy hangover, I normally go into a pitch-black room and sit for 20 minutes,’ says freelance writer and mental health advocate Casey Clark. ‘I don’t fall asleep per se, but I give myself time to unwind and work myself down from a heightened emotional state.’ She follows this up with other self-care activities like TV, music, and puzzles.

Alternatively, you might prefer Natalie’s routine: ‘What I usually do is make a cup of tea – and a lot of the time I’ll cry! Then I’ll try to calm myself down, just get away from my desk; see my cat and give her a bit of a fuss; walk around the house, and then slowly get myself back into the day.’

You need some time to decompress (Picture: Getty Images/

Get moving (and go green)

You could also try some light exercise – such as walking or swimming – to help your thoughts settle and to shake off any leftover nervous energy.

Whatever you do, walking therapist Carmen Rendell recommends getting outside to do it.

Carmen, who co-founded wellbeing network Soulhub in 2015, says: ‘Take yourself off into nature. Stay …read more

Source:: Metro


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