After a divorce, some people spiral into a deep depression. This is completely normal considering the pain and trauma associated with divorce and for those who experience it, it can seem like the end of their lives. However, divorce does not have to be a death sentence and there are ways of dealing with it, and the depression associated with it, in a way that is positive and healthy.
Symptoms Of Depression After Divorce
After a divorce, people may find that they have a variety of symptoms that they simply cannot break. This is because of the different ways that people react to divorce and the types of depression they experience may present with feelings of:
- Loneliness – one of the most obvious symptoms of a depression after a divorce is loneliness. Where you once had a partner, you may be experiencing feelings of isolation and wondering how to continue on your own.
- Exhaustion – another symptom of depression is extreme tiredness and people who struggle with it may need to sleep for long periods of time. This can be normal at first, but if it continues in the long run, medication may be needed.
- Anger – a stage of depression, extreme anger at the situation is also normal, and can present with feelings of lowered confidence and feelings of hopelessness.
- Sadness – presenting with crying, this is one of the most common symptoms of depression after divorce, since this is a sad event and needs to be mourned.
- Isolation – many people go through a need to isolate themselves from society when they have just gone through a divorce. This is usually because they do not know how to function on their own since their identity has changed. They have gone from married to single which means that a part of who they are has changed, and they need time to adapt to this. This can take some time, since they need to work out how they feel about themselves and where they stand in a societal context.
In all of these symptoms, the key to remember is time. It may take some people days to deal with these symptoms while others will go through the five stages of grief for months or even up to a year. However, there are ways to deal with these symptoms that are healthy and that will help the person move on.
The stages of grief a person may go through include: Denial, Anger, Sadness, Bargaining and Acceptance. The sooner the person reaches the acceptance stage, the sooner they can go on with their lives, but this is not something that can be forced and will take time to come about. In the denial stage, they may refuse to see the divorce as final and will still see themselves as a part of the marriage. In the anger stage, they will be furious about the progression of the divorce and the situation may cause them to take out their feelings on others. In sadness, the symptoms of depression may come out and this may leave the person feeling hopeless. In bargaining, they will try to use reason to deal with the end of a marriage and may try to make deals with themselves or a higher power to get their marriage back.
Finally, as they reach the acceptance stage, they will start to realize that this new reality that has been thrust upon them is one they have to deal with, and this may cause them to make certain changes to their lives. If they are dealing with depression after divorce in a positive way, they will make changes that affect their lives and the lives of others positively, and constructively.
Where To Get Help
When you are suffering from depression after divorce, you may have feelings of helplessness and won’t know who to turn to. However, with enough support, you can get through it. This support should come primarily from your family, that is, parents, siblings and even children. Remember that in a divorce where there are children involved, they are going through it too, which means they will need your support as much as you need theirs.
The next place to turn is friends. Sometimes this can seem difficult since the friends you have may be friends you made while you were married, but people will surprise you. They are often able to offer you support without having to choose sides in a divorce and helping you through this kind of trauma can make them closer friends than before.
In cases where the depression is severe, you can also get help from a professional. Many experienced therapists have the knowledge and skills to deal with depression after divorce and they can help you get to a more positive space. You will probably find that many therapists advertise their services online in directories, so find one near you who can assist you in dealing with the feelings left by a divorce.
When Depression Lingers Too Long
Although it is natural to feel a certain amount of depression after a divorce, this can be problematic when it goes on too long. When it starts to affect your work or your other relationships, or you start to become more depressed rather than beginning to heal, it may be time to seek professional help. Depression is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness and if not treated, these can become thoughts of suicide. To avoid this, seek help from someone you trust as early as possible.
Helping Yourself Deal With Depression After Divorce
One of the most important factors of dealing with divorce is finding the strength inside you to carry on. There are many techniques that people use to deal with divorce and all of these can trigger the positive movement to a better life.
These could include a simple exercise to take cognizance of your feelings. When you admit that you are feeling down and depressed by a divorce, you will start to heal and move forward. Intrinsic in this is the importance of remembering all of the people who love and support you. When you feel you have a support system made up of people who will stick by your side, you will start to feel as though you can support yourself.
They say that one of the best ways to heal is by helping others. By helping with a charity or volunteering, you can make a big difference to the life of others, and this will make you feel more positive about your contribution to the world. When you decide to make certain changes in your life, you will start to feel more positive, so it also helps to make a list of the changes you intend to make. By doing this, and sticking to it, you have a plan for your life again and won’t feel so lost and helpless.
For some, dealing with depression after divorce is as simple as starting a new project. You may have had a project you wanted to complete for a long time, such as some home DIY or even an educational course. Now is the time to sign up for it, so that you can start on a new chapter of your life. Some people may even decide to start a business, as this gives a new sense of purpose to your life and will make you feel needed and important.
Dealing with divorce is tough, especially when you feel as though your life has been disrupted, which is why it is so important to engage in new activities and keep yourself busy. Some of the activities you may like to try include:
- Starting a new project: a new project could include anything from reading a book to covering a table in mosaic patterns. When you start a new project, you will feel as though your life has purpose and that you have a goal to work towards.
- Do something entirely unexpected: if you have ever wanted to go bungee jumping or skydiving, now is the time. If you have ever wanted to start a new job or change your routine in some other way, there is no better time to do so than after a divorce. You will feel energized and alive.
- Plan what intend to do for the next five years: by planning your next move, you give yourself a purpose. You don’t even have to plan your whole future. This could be as simple as making a list of the outfits you will wear that week, or what you intend to cook for dinner. You could even plan longer term and add in what you intend to do in the next few years.
- Spring clean: there is no better way of fighting off depression after divorce than doing a big spring clean in your home. As they say, out with the old and in with the new, so get rid of all of the excess and clutter in your life, and start this new chapter with a clean home and fresh new outlook.
- Take some time for you: it is important to remember that going through the process of mourning a lost marriage is hard and it will take a lot of energy. It is important at this stage to remember to do things for yourself, from taking long, hot baths to going on long walks. Even if you go to the store and buy yourself a whole new wardrobe, do things that make you feel good in the moment.
- Attend a class: perhaps you have always thought of becoming a dancer. Perhaps you never have. By trying something new like dancing, cooking or even learning a new language, you are taking your life into your own hands and setting the tone for the rest of your life.
- Rise above it all: divorce can be ugly and this in itself can be depressing. Don’t get involved in petty disputes with your ex that could leave you feeling as though you have been through a war. If you can avoid fighting, do so. If not, hire a good lawyer and let them do the work for you, so that you can put the messiness of divorce out of your mind and get on with your life.
A divorce can be a horrible messy affair and the depression after divorce can destroy you if you allow it to. However, coping with how you feel after a divorce is important if you want to go on with your life, and if you have children, this is especially important as you need to be a support system for them.
With the support of friends and family, you can get through the difficult periods of divorce, and in cases where you feel as though you cannot get through it the help of a professional may make all the difference. In some cases, even a support group can help, especially when you consider that everyone who attends the group has gone through the same things you are going through.
The important thing to remember when dealing with depression after divorce, whether in your own life or when helping someone else, is that you won’t always feel this way. Feelings are temporary and when you feel yourself spiraling deeper into depression, it is vital to be objective and remember its impermanence.
Also important to remember is that you are not alone, but you do have a certain degree of responsibility that you need to take for your own life. This means that when you feel your life spiraling out of control, you need to do something about it. This could include visiting a professional for help, taking medication or even starting your life again. One thing that is for certain is that you won’t have to do it on your own.
Depression after divorce can be a serious ailment but it is not a death sentence. By making small but positive changes in your life, you can come out better than when you went in.