Depression is a common mental health condition one experiences during and after a divorce. It’s an understatement to say that divorce is experienced as a tremendous loss for many people. A recent finding regarding suicide rates in the major U.S. cities indicates men who are suffering from depression are at highest risk, and for many, divorce is the situational basis for their feelings of hopelessness.
Why do men tend to feel more hopeless than women following a divorce? One reason is that more often than not, it’s the wife who initiates the divorce. Men also experience increased financial pressures of alimony and separation of assets, decreased or lost custody of their children, and have weaker support systems in place. They say they don’t feel as needed anymore.
September is National Suicide Prevention month. Creating awareness about the sadness and despair men can feel after experiencing a divorce is important.
5 Tips for Healing from Depression After Divorce
1. Seek Medical Advice
Situational depression is very common among men and women who suffer a divorce. If you have a history of depression, or it runs in your family, you’re more likely to develop it. Seeking an evaluation from a mental-health or medical professional is very important. If medication is prescribed, it may help to boost your resilience to get through your divorce and heal in a more effective and healthy way.
2. Create a Solid Support System
Divorce is too difficult to go through on your own. If you ever needed to talk and share your feelings, it’s now. Seek out healthy friendships, join a support group, set up therapy sessions, reconnect with your spirituality, and spend time with your extended family to shore up a steady stream of support. It can be difficult to lean on anyone too much, so broadening your support system will benefit you greatly.
3. Heal Yourself Before Jumping Into a New Relationship
Rebound relationships can cause more emotional damage and add to your divorce suffering. In the midst of your own personal loss, your ability to choose a healthy partner is unlikely, thus the odds that this new relationship will end is high, causing you additional heartbreak. You don’t need this right now. Take the time to heal yourself before you jump into a new, serious relationship.
4. Work to Stay Healthy
Sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are very important as you heal from divorce. Try and get a good night’s sleep each night to rejuvenate your mind and body. If you’re having trouble sleeping, please let your doctor know. Exercising is a great way to relieve tension and stress, and to boost your confidence and self-esteem. Eating a healthy diet boosts your immune system, and adds to your overall physical well-being.
5. Become Constructively Proactive
Being proactive in your life and recovery leads to a more positive mental and emotional state. It means getting off the couch and taking initiative in your new life. Make a budget and know where your finances are. Plan outings with the children and remain an important figure in their lives. Get caught up on new books that interest you, and join clubs that offer activities of interest and possible new friendships. Plan a vacation you’d like to take one day, and always, always have something to look forward to.
Healing from post-divorce depression also includes developing a positive mindset. While there are many roller-coaster emotions to navigate, at the end of each day try to focus on everything that is good, that is going right, and that you feel grateful for. It will get easier in time, and you will begin to feel much better.
Always remember — YOU MATTER. Very much.
If you are having thoughts of suicide or feeling unsafe, please call 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or go to your nearest emergency room.
Brave Hearts. Honor Your Courage. Honor Your Knowing.
Jamie Daniel, MS, LMFT went into the field of clinical counseling with a heart to help others going through the journey of divorce recovery.