When you go through a divorce, almost every part of your life will be impacted in some way. Having your spouse tell you they want a divorce can be emotionally overwhelming. Even when you are the one who wants to end the marriage, leaving your partner will have serious emotional consequences for you. For some, going through this experience may lead to depressive symptoms that are difficult to manage.
Recognizing the Signs
Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have, and many people will have anxiety and depression during and after their cases. It’s not unusual to feel sadness or a sense of loss, although these emotions are not necessarily indications of clinical depression. However, a traumatic event like divorce can make someone more vulnerable to developing situational or clinical depression. When you or someone you care about is in this situation, it’s important to be aware of the signs they may be suffering from this condition. Some possible symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sleeping or inability to sleep
- Uncontrollable crying
- Emotional outbursts and extreme irritability
- Loss of interest in activities the individual once enjoyed
- Difficulty with concentration
- Feelings of hopelessness or low self-worth
- Suicidal thoughts comments or attempts
If you or your loved one are showing signs of depression, it may be time to see a mental health practitioner. If the symptoms are more severe, such as suicidal ideations or attempts, you should seek professional help immediately.
Treating Depression During Your Divorce
Divorce cases involve numerous stressors that can increase depressive symptoms. If you are already seeing a therapist, keeping your scheduled appointments should be a priority. If you don’t have a counselor, now may be the right time to find someone. Additionally, if you can maintain an exercise routine, it may help improve your mood. Also, having a consistent workout schedule can raise your endorphin levels and keep you moving even when you want to stay in bed.
Avoiding social media and spending time with supportive friends and family members can also help you maintain perspective during this time. Determining the best self-care regimen for yourself is also important. For example, if reading before bed relaxes you, make time for that practice each day. If you know you have a particularly difficult hearing coming up, schedule time with your therapist, call a good friend for support, and practice self-care.
Managing Depression After Your Divorce
Many experts will tell you that divorce involves grieving the loss, or death, of a relationship and working through many stages in the processing of that loss. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and take the time you need to work through your feelings. Not being “over it” just because your divorce is final is not necessarily a reflection of impaired mental health. However, if you have depressive symptoms that persist for several months and are interfering with your daily functioning, you may need to seek outside help. Most experts will tell you that talking about your feelings is the most important first step in healing.
Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law is a Wisconsin attorney and mediator who has experience helping clients before, during, and after divorce, and can give you referrals as necessary to the right experts for your care. Come in and let us take a “first look” at your circumstances and get the information you need to make informed decisions. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.