You thought your marriage was going to last forever. Now, the fairy tale is over, and you are going through a divorce. You are certainly not alone. There are 782,000 divorces in the U.S. every year. It’s an emotional time that can overwhelm you with depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
People have different ways of dealing with depression, but a few signs that you may be going through difficult times are:
- Acting irresponsibility.
- Avoiding loved ones.
- Having difficulty focusing, especially at work.
- Feeling argumentative.
It is not unusual to feel this way. Even if you initiated it, a divorce signifies radical changes in your life. Speaking with a counselor may help you through this difficult period of your life.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
When we are depressed, our feelings run the gamut from feeling numb to hopeless. It can be a struggle just to get through the day. The common signs of depression are:
- having no or little appetite
- a loss of enjoyment in our normal activities
- difficulty in sleeping or insomnia
- feeling irritable
- feeling tired during the day
- crying a lot
- lack of focus
- overwhelmed by hopelessness and a lack of self-worth
- perhaps thoughts of suicide.
If you are experiencing a minimum of five of the above symptoms, you might be depressed. You should think about seeking help from a professional, or start doing research on a therapist who can help.
Men and women usually manage divorce trauma differently. Women experience a lowering of self-esteem and sadness, while men can become irritable, and seek comfort in alcohol and drugs.
When Anxiety and Depression Become too Difficult to Handle
If your feelings of worthlessness and depression get out of control, you might benefit from a visit with your doctor. This is especially true if you are feeling suicidal. The doctor can recommend therapy or prescribe medication. In addition, he or she is someone with whom you can speak frankly.
Many non-medical treatments have proven beneficial, such as art therapy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or exercise.
Tips for Handling Post-Divorce Trauma
Ask for help:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it is from friends, family, or a doctor. Divorce affects those around you. Anxiety and depression can use up much of your energy. This is the time to lean on your support system. Don’t push them away. Embrace them.
Begin to Journal:
Feeling and emotions can become jumbled in our brains. Journaling, or writing down what we feel, can help us sort through the labyrinth of confusion. Write down your feelings at the end of each day. Consider writing a letter to your ex detailing all your emotions. Don’t send it; you can tear it up. But the letter serves as an acknowledgment and release for the negativity you are experiencing.
The mind and body are irrevocably connected. Your mind will feel the consequences of no exercise or activity. You can join a gym, but that isn’t necessary. Find a jogging partner. Take up tennis or some similar activity. Walk more than you drive and climb stairs instead of using an elevator. Both your mind and body will feel better. Don’t underestimate the healing effects of yoga and meditation.
Drowning one’s sorrows in a pint of ice cream has become the tagline to many jokes. But that is all it is – a joke and a mere temporary antidote. Just as your mind benefits from exercise, it will benefit from healthy foods. Stock up on fresh produce. Prepare some tasty and nourishing seafood. And you don’t have to forgo snacks. Dark chocolate is quite healthy for you.
Be a Friend to Yourself:
Now is the time to indulge in some pampering. This can include anything from a long, scented, candlelit bath to binging on your favorite movies. Get a manicure and a new haircut. Arrange for a sitter to take the children off your hands to allow you to enjoy some precious “me” time.
The worst thing you can do while feeling depressed is to sit at home and mope. Make every effort to put on some nice clothes and get out. Meet friends or do some activity on your own. But don’t stay inside and brood.
Allow Yourself to Grieve:
There is no denying that you are going through a hard time. Allow yourself to feel the pain, then do something to make yourself feel better. However, beware of finding comfort with another partner too soon. Give yourself time to deal with the divorce, then slowly seek appropriate company. There truly is no rush.
Accept It – Your Life Has Changed
Whether your divorce is bitter or amiable, your life is no longer the same. You might be living in a new home. You have to share your children – possibly with your ex’s new companion. Your finances are likely to be more unstable than they were pre-divorce. Accept the changes.
Focus on the things you can control. Accept the things you cannot.
Your days are indeed different. But this very difference can bring an abundance of opportunities. Consider reconnecting with people you haven’t seen in a long time. You are now free to do things you’ve always wanted to do – take classes, volunteer, try a different career. Divorce may seem like the end, but this stage of your life is just beginning. Make the most of it.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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