When a couple that has been together for many years finally decides to go their separate ways it can be a painful loss for both sides even if it feels like the right decision. Divorce is a huge change and requires a major period of adjustment which can take anywhere from weeks to months or even years. People going through a divorce are susceptible to a wide range of different emotions and unfortunately it is very common for them to develop symptoms of depression.
Divorce is more than just a break-up- it can involve losing your home, spending less time with your children and going through a huge financial change. In addition to all this, a divorcee has lost someone that may have been their closest friend and partner at some point before their relationship experienced problems. These many losses can create a sense of grief that is often overwhelming as they try to grapple with the changes they are going through.
Someone going through a divorce might experience intense sadness and feelings of depression. Even though the symptoms of depression are serious, the circumstances make them different from a clinical disorder. Someone who has depression following a traumatic experience or major life change has situational depression or adjustment disorder as it is sometimes called.
Depression related to divorce is very treatable and most of the symptoms will resolve over a period of time as the individual adjusts to the many changes they are faced with. Therapy will be greatly beneficial but it can be helpful to realize that the symptoms are not a permanent mental illness. Situational depression is temporary but it can manifest itself in similar ways to major depression.
Recognizing Symptoms of Depression after a Divorce
People who are going through divorce will be experiencing a lot of different emotions and may seem unstable at times. They are processing a very painful event in whatever way that they can. If they show any of the following symptoms then they may be suffering from depression:
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Anger or irritability
- Loss of interests in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed
- Crying spells
- Problems with focusing or concentrating on tasks
- Having pessimistic thoughts and feelings
- Hopelessness or a loss of self-worth
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
- Ignoring responsibilities
- Avoiding family and friends
- Poor performance at work
- Frequent arguing and fighting with others
Although these symptoms can be a natural reaction to very difficult circumstances it does not mean you or someone you love does not need help. When someone exhibits these symptoms they are experiencing a lot of suffering and will improve with some help from a professional.
Getting Help for Depression
In some cases depression following divorce may subside on its own but without help some individuals might have trouble recovering. It is especially important to see a doctor if you are having suicidal thoughts because this can be a very dangerous situation. There are many ways to get help for depression and a number of different outlets to allow you the space you need to heal from this traumatic event.
You can talk to a therapist about the problems you have been going through and if you are really struggling they might offer you some medication. In cases of suicidal thoughts and attempts, medication can help stabilize a person’s emotional state so that they will be less likely to harm themselves. Of course the most important thing during this period of recovery is to spend time in talk therapy, discussing the events of the divorce and the feelings that have developed as a result.
People going through depression following a divorce benefit the most from psychotherapy and medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety prescriptions but there are other supplemental therapies that can be helpful. Options such as art or music therapy or even alternative treatments like acupuncture can help people heal and work through their pain. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can go a long way to help reduce some of the symptoms of depression.
Self-Care Following a Divorce
There is no way around the fact that a divorce is a very difficult time for everyone involved. The important thing is to take care of yourself and make sure that you are giving yourself space and time to recover. Working too hard or allowing stress to build up will only make the situation worse.
You can take some time away from the stress of daily life so that you can heal from this painful situation. Get involved in activities with friends or in hobbies that make you feel more connected. Do everything you can to prevent your depression from taking over your life as you go through different phases of the divorce.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a divorce and depression contact a therapist who can provide support and treatment.