The end of a relationship is hard on anyone. The loss of companionship, social connections, a home, business, and stability can often trigger or exaggerate depression and other mental health challenges. Post-divorce depression can keep you from moving on to the next chapter of your life. But who faces a greater impact from divorce depression, men or women? And how can you get help?
Adjustment Disorder Can be Caused by Traumatic Divorces
In the midst of paperwork and legal proceedings, it can be easy to forget that divorce can often include loss. You have lost a relationship that was important to you at one time. You may be asked to give up your home or have limited parenting time with your children. In the face of these tough changes, it is entirely natural to feel grief as you and your spouse part ways.
However, sometimes, healthy grieving can turn into a form of depression, especially if your relationship, separation, or divorce proceedings were high-conflict. Depression caused by a traumatic event is often called “adjustment disorder” or “situational depression.” It is different from the kind of major depression some people deal with throughout their lives. Post-divorce depression often looks like:
- Withdrawing from friends and family (maybe because they took your spouse’s side)
- Ignoring responsibilities (including what you need to do to finalize your divorce)
- Losing focus easily
- Irritability and fighting
- Trouble sleeping and fatigue
- Sadness and crying
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or pessimistic
If you already struggle with chronic depression, divorce can also intensify those feelings and trigger depressive or suicidal thoughts.
Does Divorce Depression Impact Men or Women More?
Men and women often experience divorce depression differently. Women are more likely to feel sad, worthless, or guilty. They may blame themselves for the end of the relationship. On the other hand, men may become more irritable, have insomnia, or begin drinking or using drugs in response to the stress of divorce.
Some evidence says women are more likely to experience adjustment disorders than men. However, this could be because men are less likely to talk to someone about their feelings. Others say that men are more likely to suffer from major depression after divorce. Divorced men are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide than married men. Regardless of gender, it is essential to get help if you feel depressed after divorce.
Strategies to Overcome Post-Divorce Depression
In the face of divorce depression, the urge to withdraw from your troubles can feel overwhelming. However, if you shut out your feelings, you could end up delaying your divorce and extending your period of situational depression. Rather than living with your sadness or irritability, here are some strategies to keep you and your divorce moving forward.
Build a Support Group
Depression thrives on isolation, but no one should have to go through a divorce alone. Connect with friends, family members, or a divorce support group through your religious group or a local community organization. Surrounding yourself with people who want the best for you can help counteract the negativity of divorce.
Focus on the Future
Try not to dwell on how you got here or things outside your control. Your life doesn’t end when the divorce is final. Make a plan for what the next chapter will look like. Focusing on the future can keep you from dwelling on depressing thoughts and can even make you excited for what comes next.
Divorce involves a lot of breaking down – of relationships, bank accounts, businesses, and home environments. Find some way to create something to counteract the negative feelings around that loss. Paint, build, write, draw, or sing. Having something that you can create will help you feel in control of your life.
Get Help from Professionals
Your doctor, a professional therapist, divorce coach, or even your divorce attorney can all provide additional support to help you get through divorce depression. Feeling depressed after divorce does not mean you are a failure. It means you have gone through something difficult. Getting help is the right and healthy choice.
At Thacker Sleight, our experienced and empathetic divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing our clients exclusive, highly professional service that is also personal and unique to their situation. We can connect you to therapists or divorce coaches to address your post-divorce depression. Contact us at 616.888.3810 to schedule a consultation. We will be there with and for you every step of the way.