Managing Divorce-Related Depression
Understanding the emotions you experience is one of the best first steps in deciding to overcome them, especially if you happen to be experiencing depression as a result of your divorce. There are different types of depression which will have different diagnosis, symptoms and therefore different treatment methods. For instance,the depression that occurs due to divorce is different from clinical depression. That particular type of depression would be deemed as due to a traumatic life event and is called adjustment disorder or situational depression. Both clinical depression and situational depression manifest in similar ways.
In some people, depression following divorce can occur with other behaviors, such as:
- ignoring responsibilities
- avoiding family and friends
- performing poorly at work due to a lack of focus
If you’re experiencing any of these behaviors or you’re feeling depressed after divorce, it is advisable for you to talk to a counselor who can suggesta course of action or provide a support network.
Symptoms of Depression
It is important to realize that although most people associate sadness with depression, sadness is only one of several emotional symptoms of depression. Other symptoms that are common in both clinical and situational depression include:
- a loss of appetite
- a loss of interest in activities and hobbies you previously enjoyed
- trouble sleeping or insomnia
- crying spells
- difficulty concentrating
- feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, as well as a lost sense of worthlessness
- suicidal thoughts and even suicidal attempts
Either of these isolated feelings on their own do not indicate depression. Any diagnosis of depression would require that at least five of these symptoms be present.
Gender and Depression
It may not seem like a significant factor in depression but the gender of the individual actually has some impact on how the condition is experienced. Men and women experience depression differently. Women often experience feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt when they are depressed. On the other hand, the symptoms of depression in men are more likely to range from irritability and difficulty sleeping to binge drinking or using drugs. In a general sense, women are more likely to experience depression after divorce than men. However, men are less likely to talk openly about their depression when they experience it.
When To See A Doctor
If you experience prolonged periods of negative emotions, it is advisable that you seek out the expertise of a counseling professional. However, if these feelings accumulate to a point where they become overwhelming and you start to have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) for immediate assistance. Speaking to a stranger over the phone about your issues can be less of a challenge for you than talking to your usual friends or family. It can be easier to open up about your feelings to a non-judgmental individual who you don’t know over the phone than to a person you are familiar with. This person can help you get past the thought of giving up. However, you should know that speaking to someone in these scenarios is usually a temporary intervention.
Call your general practitioner to schedule an appointment if you feel symptoms of depression for more than two weeks. When preparing for your appointment, you can bring a friend along for support. Write down your primary symptoms and bring this list with you to the appointment. Also, write down any medication or supplements you are currently taking. Seeing your doctor will give you more long-term options for addressing your situation.
Your doctor may prescribe:
- anti-anxiety medication
They may also recommend:
- art therapy
- alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or massage therapy
- relaxation techniques such as yoga or a sports class
Pre-existing Depression and Divorce
Sometimes it is not the deterioration of the relationship that causes emotional strain. Instead, one or both partners can enter a relationship with emotional baggage. In this sense, the risk of a couple divorcing doubles if one partner has some form of mental distress, like clinical depression. If both partners, however, share a similar degree of mental distress, divorce is less likely. The reason for this is that they understand each other better and can relate health challenges that they each face.
Even though partners who share a similar level of mental distress would likely be able to understand and support each other, their marriage would still be at risk. In fact, a relationship where both parties experience mental distress is at greater risk for divorce than one between two people who are not suffering from mental distress. This has led researchers to conclude that pre-existing mental distress can lead to divorce. From this conclusion, one could infer that despite the shared understanding the couples might have of each other, it would not negate the negative effects of having poor mental health.
Tips for Managing Post-Divorce Depression
Divorce affects more than just the two people in the relationship. It also affects any children within the family unit, the larger family network, and friends. If you are going through a divorce, having a support network to help you through theprocess is important.
You’ll experience many feelings, and processing them effectively can take time and energy. So the process can leave you with reduced energy and feeling run down. Here are some ways to get on the path to recovery:
Write In A Journal.
Even if you benefit from a support network, it’s good practice to write your thoughts down. It’s a method that allows you to vent without needing to hold anything back. If you need closure on specific circumstances, consider writing a letter to your ex-spouse as a way to purge thosefeelings. That doesn’t mean you have to send the letter, as the exercise is to give you relief not to start a new arguement.
Exercise even when you don’t want to or you have difficulty finding the energy to do it. Research shows that between 20 to 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week or any kind of physical activity helps to ease the symptoms of depression.
While you may prefer comfort foods or even alcohol more than usual as you deal with depression after divorce, keep healthy foods around. Rather than having unhealthy foods or alcohol that’s on hand and easily accessable, treat yourself to wholesome snacks, such as dark chocolate.
Pamper yourself with a long, uninterrupted bath or watching a feel-good movie. If you have young children, see if you can arrange a babysitter to free your time so you can focus on yourself for a couple of hours. Going through a divorce can make you feel inadequate, pampering yourself as a reminder that you are worth the effort.
You may feel less energetic during this period of adjustment. If people offer to help you bypreparing meals, watching your children, or taking care of general household chores, say yes. You will see that people are there for you and you can return the favor later. It will also free you of the damaging ideal that you need to “be strong”. Accepting help when it is offered will free you from possibly being overwhelmed later.
It’s understandable that being around people may not be something you want to do, but the companycan help you cope with youremotions. Spend time with thosewho can offera listening ear but who canalso help change your state of mind as needed. The important thing is that you do not isolate yourself from human interaction.
A major symptom of depression is the increased risk of insomnia, which , in turn, enhances the depression. If you have trouble falling asleep, establisha nighttime routine that will calm your body and mind. Your may try a cup of chamomile tea, taking a bath or shower, or reading a good book. Avoid using electronic screens because they can have a negative impact on your sleep patterns. If you otherwise have trouble keeping a routine during thisdifficult period, keeping a strict, calming night routine can be the booster you need to keep you going in a healthy way.
You’ll experiencemany feelings and thoughts to process both during and after a divorce. You can get through it and find your new normal in the abscence of your spouse with the help of others around you and by setting small goals every day that give you little tastes of victory as you progress.
The important thing is to never give up. There will be days when nothing seems to work, but remind yourself that you’re worth it. Make that a mantra and your starting point for each day. If the entire process becomes too overwhelming, try to speak to a professional who can help you through the challenges.
Overcoming Divorce Depression: Getting By Post-Divorce
Life after divorce can be hard, even if you wanted out of your marriage. You may realize that your separation is ultimately a positive thing, you’re still suffering from a loss and divorce recovery can be difficult. okay to acknowledge that. It’s the only way that you’re going to learn how to cope with divorce and truly overcome the loss.
Accepting that divorce can be incredibly painful and taxing on your mental health is an essential first step in dealing with the challenges you will face. The divorce-related depression you experience can feel less impossible to deal with if you start by accepting how real it is. The truth is, there are several ways you can adjust your lifestyle after your divorce. One option you can consider is divorce counseling. if you find that your post-divorce depression is causing you to struggle when you try to move on, divorce counseling is a good option for you. Read on to learn how to overcome your divorce depression.
Life During and After the Divorce
During and after your divorce, life can feel overwhelming. It will take patience to address the deep loss you are experiencing. Navigating the grief and loss that comes after such an emotional challenge can be hard to do on your own.
Feeling unsure of yourself as you go through your divorce or divorce recovery should be expected. You may find yourself questioning if you’re making the right decision. You may even be stressed about finances, the possibility of finding love again, be concerned about the best ways to help your child deal with divorce, and more.
It is also common for people going through a divorce to have some feelings of guilt or shame. The guilt or shame comes fromfeeling like the failure of the marriage is their fault.. Apart from these emotions, there may also be feelings of anger and resentfulness towards your spouse that you have to deal with.
Throughout the process, the most important thing you can do is to remind yourself that all of your feelings are valid. And more importantly, there is nothing abnormal about feeling them.
The Mental Health Impact During Your Divorce
During your divorce process, you may find that you’re:
- More tired than usual
- Unable to sleep
- Experiencing a change in your eating habits— eating too much or not enough
- Prone to be more reactionary
The Mental Health Impact After Your Divorce
After your divorce is finalized, you might anticipate suddenly feeling better. You may expect that you’ll feel like you have a new lease on life, or that a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. But in reality, your feelings post-divorce can still border on depression. After your divorce, those feelings may even feel more burdensome than they were when you were going through the process itself.
Having difficulty sleeping, being overcome with strong emotions, and a change in your food consumption are all symptoms you may experience both during and after your divorce. If you were able to navigate emotionally challenging periods through the divorce, have faith that you will also get through the emotional challenges after the divorce. All your feelings are valid, before and after.
Signs of Divorce Depression
If you are feeling even more emotionally challenged after the divorce,there are many signs of divorce depression to be aware of. Feelings of depression go beyond just being sad. It is a serious medical condition that impacts how you act, think and feel. A combination of any or all of the following symptoms can be an indicator of divorce-related depression :
- A loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Loss of or increase in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Difficulty falling asleep and or staying asleep
- Excessive irritability
- Sudden insomnia
- Increased fatigue
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Crying spells (often uncontrollable)
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of pessimism
- Feelings of guilt
- Substance abuse
- Loss of your sense of self-worth
- Suicidal thoughts
- In extreme cases, suicide attempts
When It’s Time to Seek Help
While going through your divorce, you may find it difficult to differentiate between intense feelings of sadness and actual depression. If you aren’t sure how to categorize what you are feeling, start with our depression screening to learn more.
Importantly, seek immediate help if your depressive feelings are affecting your daily life or if you’re starting to have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Try to out to a therapist or someone who’s removed from the situation since it can be beneficial to you. Be sure to bring up any feelings of guilt or shame that you might be feeling. Therapists are better equipped to help you work through those feelings.
Common recommendations your doctor or therapist may suggest for overcoming your divorce depression can include the usual recommendations for patients who experience depression such as:
- Anti-anxiety medication
- Antidepressant medications
- Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
- Relaxation techniques
- Acupuncture or massage therapy
What you should remember is that if you need help with divorce depression, you can certainly find it. You do not have to live with the emotional scars from yourdivorce. You can access therapy and pursue healing. If you need help, connect with a licensed therapist from Estadt Psychological today.
Avoiding Post-Divorce Depression: Recommendations For Men
For men, the issues associated with divorce can include typical problems ranging fFrom financial uncertainties to the more impactful of being limited to being a weekend dad. Considering such issues, the upheaval men face when divorce becomes a possibility is enough to drive nearly anyone to the breaking point.
It is no secret that the process can create an incredible amount of stress. The related stress can then in turn create even more serious problems. Depression is one of these more serious and likely problems after a divorce. It can actually affect every aspect of your life and if it affects you, don’t feel alone because it is a fairly common health condition. Even so, you can assess your risk level as soon as you start to feel like you might become a victim. Identifying your risk level is the best first step in combatting the illness.
Men Face Increased Risk of Post-divorce Depression
Men are statistically almost twice as likely to experience post-divorce depression as their female counterparts. The standard statistics already show that persons going through a divorce will be at a greater risk for depression so this shows a potential combined negative effect for men.
Clearly, those going through divorce will feel the loss of their spouse and possibly some confusion about their self worth. For men, the sudden life change of a divorce will be difficult to grapple with because they are at a disadvantage in several ways including:
The wife is more likely to initiate a divorce. — The husband is most likely to be left untethered and in shock because The person who files for divorce usually has likely spent more time contemplating their future before coming to the decision and more often than not the person who has thought things out is the wife.
Men are more likely to lose custody of their children. — Mothers are more likely to get custody of children even though the law is slowly becoming more considerate of fathers who deserve custody. Naturally, the prospect of losing access to their children would be difficult for men as they are also losing their spouse. It makes it even more difficult if they have been present, loving and supporting their children their entire lives.
Men are less likely to have a system of support.
Women are generally much more likely to open up to friends, family and even professionals about their struggles. Men on the other hand tend to keep things to themselves so they may find it more difficult to cope with the struggles of a divorce. Divorce is not something you should go through alone, so it is better to resist perceptions of weakness as a man and share the expectedly challenging feelings with someone you can trust.
Men often have greater financial obligations post-divorce. — The financial challenges that come with a divorce usually disproportionately affect men. It can seem particularly unfair if the mother is awarded custody and then the father would end up also having to pay child support. If alimony payments are added to this equation, it can become rather financially strenuous for men.
Many other situational factors. — Situational factors can also play into the situation and make it worse. Factors such as infidelity, substance abuse and health issuesproblems can become bigger problems than they were during the marriage.
Persons going through a divorce should also consider their history of needing support. Men who have had depression previously are at greater risk of having the issue come up again during a divorce. This risk alone is reason enough for seeking immediate help if you think you might need it.
Mitigating Chances Of Post-Divorce Depression
Your divorce experience will be unique to you and the circumstances surrounding your relationship. Similarly, the way you cope will be unique to you as well. The methods you use to cope and the way you choose to use them may be very different from how they are used by someone else.
Experts make several recommendations about how to cope through a divorce. There are also several recommendations made by individuals who have experienced divorce themselves. The suggested approaches are customizable to your own situation.
Build a support network — The network you build can act as an outlet for you. You can vent about the emotions you experience as you try to cope with the negative aspects of your divorce. Having someone or a group to talk to is better than holding everything inside. It is even better if you can find a professional therapist to help you with the issues. A professional will be able to add levels of insight that your friends and associates will not be able to.
Do not dwell on what you can’t control — During your divorce proceedings, issues of custody, child support and alimony obligations may come up. Clearly, these are issues of the law and you may find that your Eex walks away with the better custody arrangement, and even a larger portion of your previously shared assets.
Once the case closes, there is likely little you can do to shift the legal aspects of the arrangement into your favor. This reality might be hard to cope with at first, but if you decide to be focused you can get past the initial adjustment and learn to make the best of the situation. Instead of focusing on the anger and frustration you will inevitably feel, you can focus on your kids and exploring new interests when you have the opportunity.
Immerse yourself in something constructive — You can try to take your mind off the situation to help you cope. This does not mean you are avoiding the situation but distractions are good, especially for the aspects of the situation that are outside of your control.
You can spend time catching up on your favorite TV series, a good book or even start exploring a new or old passion. The idea is that you channel the negative energy from the divorce into something a bit more positive. Maybe your old woodworking tools could be dusted off or some tinkering could relight the spark you had working on old cars. In any case, it is the ideal time to pick back up that old hobby or even a new one you didn’t have enough time for while you were still married.
Avoid the rebound — Although it can be hard to resist, it is better to avoid a rebound relationship immediately after a divorce. For guys, it can be a hard temptation to resist but rebounds tend to be unhealthy and more often than not they end badly so it is really best to avoid them at all cost, even if you are eager to replace your partner.
Keep in mind that your healing is important before pursuing anything with someone else.
Stay healthy — The benefits of keeping healthy through a difficult time may seem negligible but do not underestimate the value of a balanced diet, regular exercise and a good sleep schedule. These are all great ways to naturally fight depression since engagement in these activities would promote an increase in healthy chemicals such as serotonin in the brain.
A less healthy and more damaging approach would involve self-medicating with alcoholic drinks and junk food. If bad habits like those become a pattern, it could lead to a depressing routine.
The link between divorce and the likelihood of depression is clear because of the likelihood of heightened and consistent negative emotions. However, it is possible to get past divorce and work towards a more balanced life going forward with support.
What to Do About Feeling Lost After Divorce
There are many factors that will contribute to the divorce process being tough. Not only will you be dealing with the emotions, logistics, and finances, but after the dust has settled, you may feel like your life’s plans have changed direction. What you had initially envisioned for your future may seem like a path you can no longer take. If you feel like you are not sure where to go from here, don’t panic!
You should keep the following at the forefront of your mind:
You May Feel Lost Because Your Internal GPS is No Longer Working
If you have spent your life invested in your marriage and your family, it may have become the lens with which you view the world. It may mean that the Our concept of being a spouse and a partner was your internal GPS. You may have even seen your personal and professional decisions through the contextual lens of what is good for your marriage and your family.
When it comes to the point where your marriage ends, that GPS and contextual lens may become so adjusted that the final destination you desired has to be unexpectedly thrown out the window. However, that doesn’t mean that you will have to keep wandering around in the dark.
You may feel like you are merely surviving and have not yet given yourself the gift of dreaming again. You may be so busy dealing with the daily roller coaster of emotions and figuring out logistics and finances that you forget to do the simple day-to-day things you must do.
Identifying a new vision has to become your new final goal. And, until you identify that new vision for yourself and begin to take the steps to get there, moving forward will seem like a more mammoth task than it actually is.
Sometimes, you will be able to get by if you go on auto-pilot and get through the daily motions of life. However, reclaiming your happiness, your life vision and direction will require planning. The reclamation process is one you will have to go through by yourself.
Need a bit of help?
Here’s an exercise you can use to start on getting rid of your mental and physical roadblocks. Ask yourself the following questions:
What Do I Want?
If that question seems overwhelming for you, it doesn’t have to be! Your answer can be as simple as saying, “I want to be happy in my home,” or “I want to feel confident again.”
What is Stopping Me from Getting What I Want?
The things which are likely to become obstacles to your vision are usually involved in the daily minutia you face which frustrate you. A good approach that you can use is I want you to list those obstacles. Be honest and complete, but don’t spend too much time getting caught up in them. Consider the following approach:
Ask yourself the question before you start writing your reason(s) down. Consider if you can relate to the responses.
What’s stopping you?
You are staying in the home although your spouse has left, but you don’t know how to shake the feeling that they are still “there.” There are pictures of you together. Some of their belongings may even be there, like their books and other items you usually share. In that sense, you may feel like everything is just frozen in time.
How do you really feel?
You didn’t feel like the most confident person when you were having marital troubles, but now that you are alone, youI may feel like your self-esteem is completely gone. You may feel like you don’t have any purpose and it’s awful. How do you rebuild?
Once you have a few of those obstacles at the forefront of your mind, the healing part can begins. You can star to clear those obstacles out of the way by coming up with an easy plan that erases them and gets you closer to your destination. It is way easier to solve a problem once you have identified it in its simplest forms.
Start Overcoming Those Obstacles by Writing Down What You Plan to Do
You don’t need an elaborate or crazy battle plan. It really doesn’t need to be a PhD dissertation either. All you will need are some simple steps that you can start taking immediately.
How to Handle A Marital Breakup Without Breaking Down
While getting married, divorce is likely to be the last thing on your mind. However, divorce becomes a reality for an estimated 40-50 percent of marriages. . After remarrying, the divorce rate becomes even higher. Divorce is intensely personal but most people who experience divorce can agree that it is a very difficult, very painful experience.
If you typically experience stress, your stress levels will likely increase during your divorce. This is expected since the e life you had once imagined for yourself is no longer possible. There can be a lot of uncertainty and insecurity involved with moving on.. It also depends on what led to the breakdown in your marriage., Yyou may find that you start to feel like a failure. Some even say a divorce can even feel like a death.
It is unsurprising then that people who get divorced have a lower score in measures of well-being and emotional health. Although the challenges associated with a divorce can be mostly emotional, the stress, anxiety, and grief can become enough to impact your physical health. There is even data to support it. A University of Chicago study revealed that people who get divorced are 20 percent more likely than people who remain married to develop chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
How Can You Make It Through A Marital Breakup in Better Shape Without Breaking Down?
Dealing with your divorce in a healthy way can mean drawing on every support system you can find including support groups, religious organizations, and community resources.. Being socially isolated can worsen depression and anxiety during a divorce. During that time, your friend and family group can also become even more essential. If you can’t access rely on your old social networks, try to find new ones.
Finding professional help may also be beneficial for you. Speaking to a professional counselor can be healing since they would be able to keep your confidence and listen attentively, without judgment. Your history of mental health related challenges should also be considered because if you have experienced depression or anxiety in the past, then professional help is even more important during this time.
There are some do’s and don’ts for a healthier transition as you go through the process:
- Give in to Isolation
- Ruin your meal schedule
- Pick up unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking, or drugs
- Get into power struggles with your former spouse
- Seek out another relationship immediately
- Drastically adjust your life plans in a reactionary way
- Involve children, or mutual friends, in the middle of disagreements with your ex
- Make self-care a priority. Prioritize a good diet, a good night’s sleep and meditation.
- Use your support network
- Keep active by working out, taking walks or getting a personal trainer.
- Create a new routine more reflective of your lifestyle changes.
- Be kind to yourself when you are not functioning at your best.
- Take care of yourself by getting a massage, manicure/pedicure, etc.
- Indulge in new hobbies or activities you can enjoy (painting, yoga, swimming, dance, cooking, volunteer work)
- Find ways to laugh, it’s good medicine.
If you share children with your spouse, regardless of their age, you may worry about how they will handle the separation. Keep in mind that your kids should not be involved in any conflict you have with your spouse. Try these tips:
- Show a united front with your ex when presenting the news to the children.
- Give the children an idea of the adjustments they can expect to make (e.g., one parent is moving out).
- Make sure to give them full reassurance that the divorce is not their fault.
- Put plans in place to keep their routines as stable as possible.
- Avoid making your kids take sides making them a messenger, or quizzing them about time with your ex.
- Avoid talking negatively about your ex in front of them.
- Reassure them that you love them and that you’re there for them.
- Keep professional counseling in mind if needed to help your kids adjust.
Just remember, life will get back to a “new normal” after your divorce. It will take time, but eventually you’ll feel better. Your life after divorce will be whatever you make of it … so make it good!
How do I recover from divorce emotionally?
Recovering emotionally from a divorce can be challenging. These tips can help:
- That the loss is real so acknowledge it.
- The pain is normal so try to understand it.
- Things will get better so look forward to it.
- Your pain is a potential motivator so use it.
- Healing takes time so be patient with yourself.
- Do not delay your grief, embrace it.
- Learn to forgive.
- Find and keep a support system.
How long does divorce depression last?
It usually takes about two years after a divorce to feel normal again, according to some. During those 24 months, there are different approaches you can take towards achieving healing. Women may prefer talking out their feelings and a combination of other approaches, while men may prefer rejoining the dating scene with other approaches as well.
What are the emotional stages of divorce?
The emotional stages one can expect to go through after a divorce is similar to the stages people go through who are grieving. process can be broken down into The 5 stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
ow you deal with depression after divorce is dependent on how much support you decide to seek out and accept.Your route back to a healthy relationship and lifestyle will ultimately be up to you. Check out these free resources or contact us to make an appointment.