What's In This Article
The divorce process can be long and arduous, even when both parties agree. It's not uncommon for conflict to arise during the proceedings, which means that you might be in a bad mood for months or even years before your divorce is finalized.
The emotional toll of the process may lead to depression after the event, but luckily there are many ways you can get back on your feet and fight through it.
In this article, we'll examine some of these approaches so that you can find what works best for you. Everybody is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every situation.
Signs of Divorce Depression
Before you start trying to recover from divorce, you must be sure this is what's causing your depression. After all, there are many different reasons you might feel sad or hopeless. However, some of the most common symptoms of divorce depression are:
Feeling sad or hopeless for extended periods
This is more than sadness which comes and goes or lasts for a few days. This is constant despondency and can manifest in physical symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, or overeating.
Having negative thoughts about yourself, your spouse, or the divorce process
This could manifest itself as wishing you had never gotten married, feeling like you're a terrible person for what happened, or constantly replaying arguments or hurtful comments in your head.
Having difficulty focusing on your usual activities, such as work or study
You may also have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or following through with your plans with friends or family.
Inability to enjoy life's pleasures, such as going out with friends or playing a fun game
You might feel like you have no energy or desire to do anything enjoyable and may want to sit around the house watching movies all day.
Being unable to sleep properly at night due to racing thoughts
Not sleeping well prevents you from relaxing enough to fall asleep, even if you try taking sleeping pills. Often, you'll find yourself waking up early in the morning and feeling exhausted during your waking hours.
Feeling irritable, angry, or even aggressive for no apparent reason
This could manifest as snapping at friends when they're simply trying to comfort you or lashing out due to frustration when things don't go your way.
What Life Looks Like With Divorce Depression
Depression after a divorce can be very isolating. You may feel like you're the only one going through this, and no one understands what you're feeling. This can make it challenging to socialize or spend time around other people.
Additionally, you may find that your usual coping mechanisms no longer work. You might have turned to alcohol or drugs in the past to help you deal with difficult emotions, but now that you're depressed, they may only serve to aggravate the problem.
5 Stages of Grief
Some people believe that divorce depression is a form of grief. They also think that figuring out what stage you're in may help you move on from the situation. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross initially established these stages, describing how someone might feel when they come to terms with the death of a loved one.
- Denial: You refuse to believe that this is real or happening and may even convince yourself that it's a terrible nightmare you'll wake up from at any moment.
- Anger: You feel anger towards your former spouse for what they did and those who supported the divorce, such as mutual friends or relatives. This anger can often be directed at yourself as well.
- Bargaining: You make deals with yourself or a higher power to try and avoid the pain of the divorce. This might involve promising to never speak to your former spouse again or swearing that you'll be a better person if only you're given another chance.
- Depression: You feel like life isn't worth living, so you're in this situation, to begin with. You might feel like your life is over, and there's no reason to go on. This can also present itself as intense sadness or feelings of emptiness instead of despair.
- Acceptance: At some point, you accept the divorce for what it is and start to move forward with your life. You can still have good and bad days here, but it's usually toward the beginning of this stage when you'll feel most depressed.
Before Getting a Divorce
Getting a divorce is not something that anyone would ever want to do. However, if you're considering it, then there are steps you can take beforehand to decrease the odds of developing depression after the fact dramatically.
For example, many people who split up will continue spending time together even though they shouldn't. While this might be difficult in the short term, it will make the eventual separation easier.
It's also essential to take care of yourself during this time – exercise, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. Finally, be sure to talk to someone about how you're feeling. This could be a therapist, friend, or even a support group specifically for those experiencing divorce depression.
Read More: How To Get a Divorce In YOUR State
During a Divorce
You're going to experience a wide range of emotions during a divorce. This is entirely normal, but you need to ensure that you take good care of yourself. Make sure you exercise, eat right (or as well as possible given the circumstances), and get plenty of sleep.
Finally, it's essential to be open with those around you about what you're experiencing. If you need to take some time away from your friends and family, make sure they know that this is nothing against them personally.
After a Divorce
The most important thing to remember after a divorce is that it's not the end of the world. You will get through this, and you will be okay. It might take some time, but you will find happiness again. In the meantime, here are some things that may help:
- Seek professional help: It can be individual therapy with a counselor or even joining a support group. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
- Try and replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Instead of thinking “no one will ever love me again,” think about all the possibilities that are open to you now that you're not tied down.
- Do nice things for yourself: Treat yourself to a massage, get a new haircut, or do something else to make you feel good about yourself. It might seem trivial, but it can help ease the transition from being part of a couple to being on your own again.
- Write down all of your accomplishments: This might sound silly at first, but writing down everything you've done can help remind you of what you still have to be proud of.
- Take some time for yourself: While it might be tough to take a break from all your responsibilities, sometimes this is precisely what you need to decompress and get back on track after a divorce.
19 Divorce Depression Recovery Tips
If you need a little help getting through your divorce, look no further. Here are some tips to help you get through the tough times and emerge stronger on the other side.
1. Be Sad But Be Constructive About It
The first step to overcoming depression is acknowledging that you are feeling depressed. This step might be challenging, but it's a necessary step. Once you've accepted that you're going through a tough time, start being constructive.
For example, if you feel sad, try not to sit around the house all day. Instead, get up at least once and do something that gets you moving. It could be going to a movie or just going for a walk. If you feel lonely, join a divorce support group in your area and talk with others going through the same thing as you.
2. Write In a Journal
Writing in a journal is a great way to process the complex emotions you might be feeling about your divorce. You can write whatever you want or need to, and it's always good to have a place where you know no one else will read.
You don't have to use anything special either. You can use a notebook or even just a piece of paper and anything to write with. Try to write every day, even if it's just a little bit. This consistency is better than writing sporadically.
3. Do the Opposite of What Your Depressed Self Tells You
If you're feeling down, it's easy to want to do nothing but stay in bed all day. However, this is the worst thing you can do for yourself. When you're depressed, your negative thoughts spiral out of control.
Doing the opposite of what your depressed self tells you will help break this pattern. For example, if your depression tells you that there's no point in getting up, forcing yourself out of bed will help your brain break this cycle.
You might feel like you're back at square one, but don't let that deter you! Eventually, it will become easier to do what you need to do without thinking much about it.
4. Set Achievable and Audacious Goals
When you're going through a tough time, it's essential to set goals for yourself. This can help give you something to work towards and provide a sense of accomplishment when you eventually achieve them.
First, however, it's essential to make sure that your goals are both achievable and audacious. Audacious goals might seem out of reach but aren't impossible. Attainable goals are ones that you know you can complete. By setting these types of goals, you'll be more likely to achieve them and feel good about yourself in the process.
5. Create a Routine
One of the best ways to overcome depression is by creating and sticking to a routine. A routine can help give you a sense of stability during a time that's anything but stable. When you have a routine, you know what to expect from each day, which can be reassuring.
Of course, there will be times when your routine gets disrupted, and it will be essential to remember that this is okay. You don't have to stick to your routine and can let yourself take a break when you need one.
6. Exercise Daily
You probably know that regular exercise is good for your body but did you know it's also great for reducing stress? Exercise releases endorphins, your body's feel-good chemicals. It can help distract you from negative thoughts and lighten your mood in general. While any form of exercise helps, it does not need to be strenuous or intense.
A moderate amount of activity each day is all you need to start seeing results. Try to be consistent with it, even if you only have time for a 10-minute walk. One way to do that is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Set a specific time every day that you can exercise.
7. Eat Healthily
Your body is just another part of you that can affect how you're feeling, which is why it's crucial to eat healthily. Eating junk food has the opposite effect and can leave you feeling sluggish, low energy, and generally depressed. Healthy foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function correctly.
They also tend to lack sugar and unhealthy fats, which is why they're a good choice for people trying to improve their mental health. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to eating healthy. Just make sure that most of the food you're eating is nutrient-rich and low in sugar and unhealthy fats.
8. Avoid Substance Abuse
It can be tempting to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, but this is never a good idea. Substance abuse only makes you feel worse and will make it harder for you to get over your depression.
If you're having a hard time staying away from these things, it might be helpful to reach out for help from friends and family members. They can provide support and keep you accountable. If you're struggling with substance abuse, it's crucial to get help as soon as possible. Many rehab centers specialize in helping people overcome addiction.
9. Try Something New
One of the best ways to overcome depression is by doing new things. This step might sound scary at first, but you'll be surprised how much it can improve your mood. So, what kinds of things are we talking about here?
Well, you don't have to do anything drastic or life-changing. It all depends on your personal preferences and what you're comfortable with. You could try something simple, like the following:
- Cooking a new type of food
- Going for a walk in a new part of town
- Attending a play, concert, or art show
- Meeting new people by joining clubs or classes
- Enrolling in online courses
Or, you could take on a new challenge like learning a new language or a new skill. The possibilities are endless, so be creative and have fun with it!
10. Discover Gratitude
One of the best ways to overcome depression is by having an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude means taking the time to think about all you have in your life and focusing on that rather than what you don't have.
If you're living with divorce depression, there's a good chance that things could've been much worse if you were still with your ex-partner. So be grateful for what you have and all the good things in your life. It doesn't mean that you should forget about your problems or try to bury them.
It just means that you should focus on the positive aspects of your life and try to remain hopeful for the future.
11. Pamper Yourself
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is by pampering yourself. It could mean taking a relaxing bath, reading your favorite book, or enjoying a delicious meal. It's essential to do something that makes you feel good and helps you relax.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or down, take some time out for yourself. It might seem like a waste of time, but it's essential. When you're feeling good, it's easier to cope with difficult situations.
12. Accept Help
It's important to remember that you're not alone in this. Many people care about you and want to help. Accepting help from others is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you feel lost or don't know how to cope, reach out for help.
It could be from friends, family members, or a professional therapist. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You'll be surprised at how willing people are to help you out. Many people suffer from depression of all different kinds and have gone through similar things as you have.
Socializing is crucial if you want to overcome divorce depression. It can be very lonely and isolating when this happens, so you must find ways to connect with other people. It could mean finding new friends, joining a support group, or even going on a date. Whatever option works best for you, you must do something to connect with other people.
It is a great way to distract yourself from your depression and keep things positive. Socializing is also an excellent way to stay accountable, so you don't have an excuse to relapse back into bad habits.
If you're suffering from depression, chances are you aren't getting enough sleep. It can make things worse, so it's essential to take care of yourself by getting the proper amount of rest. Not only will this help improve your mood, but it will also give you more energy throughout the day.
During times like these, it's also helpful to have a nice warm drink before bed to help you relax and unwind. So what do you usually have before bed? Milk and cookies, chamomile tea, or a warm glass of milk? Whatever it is, make sure it helps you sleep well at night.
15. Find Time for Yourself
One of the best ways to overcome divorce depression is to make time for yourself. So many things can get in the way during this situation, so you must take some time out for yourself. It could be as simple as taking a long bath, doing yoga, or meditating.
Whatever works best for you, try to find time each day to do something that relaxes you and allows you to escape from your troubles. It is a great way to improve your mood and progress in overcoming your depression.
16. Seek Professional Help
If you're still struggling to cope or your depression doesn't seem to improve, seek professional help. Although it might be difficult at first, this is a crucial step to help lead to recovery. There are many different kinds of therapy available, and some may work better than others for certain people.
Professional therapists have studied the human mind extensively so they can offer you the best possible advice and treatment. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You're not alone in this.
17. Think About a Better Future
When you're feeling down, it's hard to think about anything positive. However, it's essential to think about the future and what you want for yourself. It could be anything from traveling to a different country to getting a new job.
The key is to focus on something that makes you happy and motivates you. It's also helpful to write a list of all the things that you're looking forward to in the future. Once again, remember that this is your chance to make a fresh start and do something positive with your life.
18. Be Careful About New Relationships
When you're feeling down, it's easy to jump into a new relationship. However, it's essential to be careful about who you choose to date.
New relationships can be very distracting and lead you away from your goals. It's also crucial that you take the time to properly get to know someone before committing too much. Finally, don't be afraid to take things slow, and don't let your depression cloud your judgment. There's no need to rush into anything.
19. Focus On What You Can Control
When you're feeling down, it's easy to feel like you have no control over anything. However, it's important to remember that some things are within your power. It could be something as simple as how you react to a situation or how you choose to spend your time.
It's also helpful to focus on your strengths and what you're good at. Finally, don't forget that you're capable of overcoming anything as long as you put your mind to it.
When To Seek Help
If you find yourself experiencing feelings of hopelessness, loss of appetite, and thoughts about suicide, seek professional help immediately. Do not hesitate to get the appropriate treatment for your symptoms.
Depression and Child Custody
If you are depressed, it is crucial to avoid making any life-changing decisions about your child custody arrangement until your depression is under control. Parents with significant depression may be more emotional and less likely to make practical, rational decisions.
If necessary, consider appointing a temporary legal guardian to manage child custody issues during times of acute mental illness. Remember that it is usually in your child's best interest to have both parents involved in their life, even if you are struggling with depression. Seek help from a mental health professional to get your depression under control and regain custody of your child.
Depression and Suicide
It is not uncommon for parents struggling with depression to think about suicide. If you have thoughts about suicide or harming yourself, seek help immediately. It can be challenging to admit that you need help dealing with your depression. Still, it is essential to remember that people are ready and willing to provide professional support. Suicide is not the answer – there is always a way to get better.
Depression and Work
If you are struggling with depression, it is vital to protect your job. Depression can interfere with your ability to concentrate and make decisions, so try to take some time for yourself each day to relax and de-stress.
If necessary, ask for a leave of absence from work or talk to your boss about reducing your workload. It will give you time to get better without feeling like you've lost everything. Depression can be a severe medical condition, so do not feel ashamed about taking additional time off of work for treatment.
How To Seek Help
If you are struggling with depression, don't hesitate to seek professional help. It could be from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, or it could be from your doctor. There are also many support groups available for people struggling with depression. Seek out the resources that will work best for you and get started on the road to recovery.
Going through a divorce can really take an emotional toll on even the strongest people.
If you are in need of therapy with both privacy and convenience, we recommend Online-Therapy.com. Their incredible service gives you access to instant professional help, on any device, wherever you are in the world.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.