What do you call someone who can’t let go of the past? (6 Psychological Terms & 4 Tips on how to let go)

Sometimes, people experience traumatic or difficult events in their lives that they simply can’t get over the past.

It’s not uncommon to want to forget what happened, but it may be difficult to do so because your mind just won’t let you put the event behind you. 

The inability to let go of the past or former things in life can be detrimental to relationships, life goals, and self-esteem.

If you are someone who just can’t seem to move on from past mistakes or past relationships, that question has probably come up in your life at some point, even if you’re not sure exactly what do you call someone who can’t let go of the past?

Also read: What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone? (7 Psychological terms and tips to stop obsessive thinking)

Maybe you have an old friend who just can’t stop talking about the past, or maybe you dated someone with an unhealthy attachment to your ex.

Regardless of how you feel about this person and their behavior, there are many psychological terms that describe them — and it may help you better understand and cope with their unhealthy behavior.

After all, understanding why you do what you do might help you find some closure and finally move on from whatever situation made you get attached to your past so deeply.

This article will help you better understand your condition can’t let go of the past disorder and how to let go of the past and be happy.

Also read: Psychological facts about thinking of someone (Research-based)

What do you call someone who can’t let go of the past? 

how to let go of the past and be happy What do you call someone who can't let go of the past? (6 Psychological Terms & 4 Tips on how to let go)

What do you call someone who can’t let go of the past? The psychological term for someone who can’t let go of the past is called anaclitic depression, which means a depressed mood caused by the absence of or separation from a loved one and due to social isolation.

Anaclitic depression involves interpersonal dependency. It is characterized by intense fears of abandonment and feelings of helplessness and inadequacy when alone.

People with anaclitic depression feel deeply lonely and miss having companionship in their lives after being single for some time or because they have broken up with a romantic partner.

In extreme cases, people who suffer from anaclitic depression may become unable to eat properly when their significant other leave them because they are worried about not being able to obtain food while they are alone.

Some people develop attachment issues after experiencing trauma during childhood.

For example, if their parents regularly left them at daycare when they were younger then they grew up feeling insecure around new people as adults, it is possible that those individuals developed attachment issues that resulted in loneliness and trouble forming relationships.

Also read: Why can’t I stop thinking about someone? (According to psychology)

As adults that led to developing symptoms of anaclitic depression such as suicidal thoughts and abnormal eating habits when left alone.

Solution: If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from anaclitic depression consider visiting your local primary care physician to determine whether you should seek further medical help, like psychotherapy and medication.

Having friends is one way to prevent developing feelings of anaclitic depression. So make sure to schedule some time for socializing with other people in your life.

Try joining a few meetup groups related to interests you have in common with others so that you can spend time with other people who share similar hobbies or interests as yourself, such as hiking, riding a bike, or dancing, and find new friends.

Some people are more prone to being alone than others.

Many times it is because they don’t have any close relationships with their family or they have trouble making new connections with other people based on many factors such as shyness, introversion, trauma during childhood, etc.

Take advantage of modern technology by downloading an app called Meetup where you can explore nearby events filled with thousands of other people interested in meeting new people as well. Meetup lets users sign up for free events hosted all over the world every day.

Also read: 25 Psychological facts about crushes and falling in love (Scientific research based)

Participants meet at a designated location at a set time to participate in group activities together regardless if they already know each other or not.

It is also important to note that if you feel more comfortable talking online first before meeting up IRL (in real life) then make sure to take advantage of online resources such as dating sites like PlentyofFish, matchmaking websites, instant messaging apps (like What’s App), or forums and support groups related to your interest in finding romantic partners.

Different Psychological terms for can’t let go of the past disorder

cant let go of the past disorder What do you call someone who can't let go of the past? (6 Psychological Terms & 4 Tips on how to let go)

Psychological Term: Avoidant personality disorder (AVPD):

AVPD involves having an extreme fear of rejection, which leads you to deny the feelings of anger, sadness, and loneliness that stem from your past experience.

AVPD is different from depression, as people with AVPD are not depressed. Instead, it’s characterized by a tendency to form intense, but short-term relationships that don’t last.

In these instances, you may be very involved in a new romantic partner or friend but lack commitment because you fear abandonment.

You may also believe that rejection and other negative responses stem from your own shortcomings, rather than from external circumstances beyond your control.

Some signs that you have avoidant personality disorder include –

  • Feeling unworthy;
  • Fearing social interaction;
  • Fearing criticism and disapproval;
  • Having low self-esteem;
  • Worrying about being left alone;
  • Having strong feelings of inadequacy;
  • Being extremely sensitive to any rejection or possible criticism;
  • Avoiding close personal relationships for fear of feeling controlled, abandoned, or shamed.

Also read: If you can’t stop thinking about someone are they thinking about you?

Solution: There is no specific treatment for AVPD and it may be linked to other mental health problems, such as depression or social anxiety.

However, some things that may help include individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication could also be prescribed.

If you suspect that you have AVPD, consult a doctor and discuss any symptoms that are making your life difficult.

Research shows that a surprising number of people suffer from AVPD but they’re often either reluctant to get help or unaware that there’s even a problem.

If you suspect you have AVPD, it’s important to find an appropriate therapist and start therapy as soon as possible.

Also read: 10 Psychological reasons behind why you can’t stop thinking about someone.

Psychological Term: Obsessive-compulsive disorder:

Obsessive compulsive disorder. It affects people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, although it tends to be more common in women than men.

In OCD, a person has unwanted thoughts or impulses that make him feel anxious or uncomfortable. This person will be unable to move on with their life, and they may experience severe depression and anxiety.

It’s easy to say let it go, but when you struggle with OCD, letting things go isn’t always that simple. It’s important to talk about how we should handle relationships if we’re having trouble moving forward after losing someone close to us.

Try not to blame yourself for what happened between you two. You have every right to move on if you aren’t happy; sometimes holding onto hope is holding yourself back from happiness elsewhere.

It’s understandable why you miss someone you love and want them back, but don’t pressure yourself into making something work just because it feels like it should.

Solution: Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels they must perform to neutralize anxiety, fear, or other forms of discontent.

Obsessive thoughts and repeated actions might manifest as a compulsion, but not always.

If a person’s obsession with a specific thought persists beyond one month and disrupts their day-to-day functioning or causes problems in their life. Then it is time to seek treatment from a professional psychologist.

Also read: How to not get attached to people? (Complete Guide)

Psychological Term: Post-traumatic stress disorder:

A person who exhibits symptoms of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, might have developed an aversion to things they feel are associated with their trauma.

This might mean avoiding places or people that remind them of what happened. It may also mean experiencing flashbacks or repeated nightmares.

These symptoms may last up to six months after an event and interfere with day-to-day life. (This situation was made possible by traumatic events like war, disaster, etc.).

If these signs persist beyond that point then it could be considered OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Solution: The first step is getting yourself evaluated by a mental health professional. While anxiety disorders like OCD run in families, researchers don’t know exactly why—or even if—familial patterns exist.

But what you do know is that finding treatment has proven effective at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Medication and/or psychotherapy are usually recommended treatments for OCD, but there may be other options available to you based on your unique situation.

The best way to find out more about your treatment options would be to speak with a counselor or therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders.

Also read: When you feel a connection with someone do they feel it too?

Psychological Term: Persistent depressive disorder:

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is a mental illness where people experience feelings of depression for at least two years. While major depressive disorder involves bouts of sadness, PDD also involve disturbances in sleep, appetite, and activity levels.

This condition accounts for about 5 percent of all depressed patients. A person with PDD has most or all of these symptoms:

  • Preoccupation with worthlessness,
  • Helplessness or guilt;
  • Inability to think about anything else;
  • Trouble concentrating on tasks;
  • Recurrent thoughts of death;
  • Crying spells last longer than two hours per day, nearly every day.

All symptoms must be present for two years before a diagnosis can be made.

A person does not need to have experienced all symptoms in order to receive a diagnosis, just enough to disrupt normal functioning. In some cases, PDD may lead to suicide attempts.

In fact, people diagnosed with PDD are five times more likely to commit suicide compared to those with major depressive disorder alone.

Solution: Treatment options include psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, as well as a combination of these approaches. Effective treatments involve cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy.

It’s also important to reduce stress through regular exercise, changes in diet, and other methods. In some cases, such as those involving suicidal thoughts, hospitalization may be necessary until symptoms subside.

Researchers are not sure what causes persistent depressive disorder, but they speculate that genetics are likely involved. Another factor could be childhood trauma.

A history of childhood abuse has been linked with PDD among women who have postpartum depression.

If you think you might have a persistent depressive disorder, it’s best to consult with your doctor or a therapist specializing in mood disorders right away.

Also read: What is it called when you care too much about what others think? (10 tips on how to not care what people think)

Psychological Term: State rumination:

Those in a state of ruminative thought having a hard time changing their attention from what’s bothering them.

In other words, they’re stuck in a loop, replaying thoughts about an event that happened in their lives over and over again. In doing so, they often add new details to these memories that never happened.

Solution: Although not clinically diagnosable, state rumination can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Luckily, there are also healthy coping mechanisms for those who find themselves constantly dwelling on negative thoughts. Use them if you need to. Your brain will thank you later.

Also read: How to stop overthinking?

How to let go of past trauma? (4 Tips)

how to let go of the past trauma What do you call someone who can't let go of the past? (6 Psychological Terms & 4 Tips on how to let go)

How to get over past relationship trauma? Every person handles bad things differently; it depends on how it affects your life, your experiences growing up, and many other factors.

Some people feel terrible when they lose a loved one or fail at something, while others accept it as part of life. Everyone reacts differently to adversity, but acceptance may be key.

Recommended reading: How to let go of someone you can’t be with? (15 tips)

Try practicing accepting things you can’t change:

Don’t let them bother you and move on with your day.

If something bothers you, talk to someone who cares about you and try to understand why it upsets you so much.

Getting into a healthier mindset is easier said than done, especially when it comes to self-loathing. One thing we all tend to do is beat ourselves up after failing at something we care about; maybe we didn’t get into our dream job or failed in a relationship.

We think we should be able to handle every setback like adults, but sometimes our emotions take over before we know it.

Give yourself some grace:

Be compassionate to yourself—forgive yourself for making mistakes and giving in to unhealthy coping methods. Move forward by taking steps toward making yourself better next time around.

Thinking positively isn’t always easy, but remember it is possible. Keep trying until you reach your goal. Make today count.

Know when enough is enough: No matter what happens in life, eventually things start to fall into place; don’t worry too much about tomorrow because you never know how it’ll turn out (unless disaster strikes).

Having difficult feelings (e.g., sadness) isn’t wrong; they’re perfectly normal responses to certain situations. However, feeling overly upset about issues that could’ve been avoided isn’t good either.

Also read: How to stop being emotionally attached to someone?

Balance your emotions:

Do whatever you can to make sure your emotions don’t carry over into other areas of your life. Accepting failure is extremely hard to do—even harder than coming to terms with death (believe me!).

But no matter how painful it feels right now, trust me when I say nothing lasts forever. Something else will come along in its place, so wait it out. Sometimes knowing when to say goodbye is just as hard as saying it.

There are times in life when we have to let things go, even if they’re not easy to let go of. Maybe someone hurt you and you can’t forget about it, or maybe you lost something valuable that makes you sad every day.

Also read: How to get over someone you love deeply?

Practice letting go:

Yes, it’s hard to let go, but you have to let it go in order to move on. Not everything in life is perfect; things happen that can’t be changed.

It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or anything of that sort; it just means you have to try to figure things out for yourself and work through your problems.

Giving up something you love for something else may seem impossible, but you shouldn’t force yourself into settling for less. Before you ask yourself how to let go of the past, you should remember that you should not get obsessed with it.

When you obsess over something or someone, it’s usually something that happened in your recent past. Someone who can’t let go of their past is usually obsessed with something that deeply impacted their cognitive abilities and emotional states.

Also read: How to get someone to like you romantically and make them fall in love with you? (21 Tips)

Final thoughts:

It’s no secret that we all like to reminisce about the past from time to time.

Whether you think back fondly on your childhood, past relationships, or wonder what your life would be like if you’d taken one of your past opportunities, it’s not unusual to spend some time thinking about what might have been in retrospect.

Holding onto the past is unhealthy and can hurt your future. When you cannot let go of the past, it can be extremely painful to experience and even more difficult to deal with.

While it’s important to remember the lessons we’ve learned from our past experiences, not everyone is able to easily move on once their past has ended, and they often become stuck in the past.

But if you think they are causing a disturbance in your day-to-day activities and draining your physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health.

Then it’s time to seek professional help before they cost your life. Good luck.

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Naveen Bommakanti

Naveen is Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry.

Naveen’s expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few.

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