guide to depression during divorce I
"Me? Depressed? Not at all! It's just that I am under lots of pressure, but it will pass." But sometimes it doesn't, and and sometimes we don't even notice that months have gone by and we still feel stuck. Well, let's find out how depression works!
The changes we experience throughout our lives generate various reactions at psychological and physical levels: stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration, among others. This happens mainly because of the feeling of loss at the moment of making conscious of the rupture of the relationship and the confrontation of the unknown because many new and unforeseen situations arise.
The impact of our mental state on our health is greater than we are aware of.
A recent study conducted by David Sbarra (University of Arizona) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25829240/ found that “The experience of separation or divorce confers risk for poor health outcomes, including a 23% higher mortality rate. However, most people cope well and are resilient after their marriage or long-term relationship ends.”
The study suggests that between 10 and 15 % of people struggle significantly to get out of this state.
Despite what these studies suggest, it is important to note that all loss involves a period of grieving, so it is normal to feel down, anxious, susceptible, angry, frustrated, or a mixture of feelings.
What feelings are normal when going through a divorce or separation?
· Denial: This is a short stage. When we have a loss our brain needs time to readjust to its new reality. This stage usually arises at the beginning, however, it can appear at any stage of the process. It is like that freezing of the brain when you drink something particularly cold, it is paralyzing on many occasions, it is a very intense sensation, however, it disappears after a few seconds. In the case of grief, it probably lasts from a few hours to a couple of weeks. If it persists, it is advisable to see a health professional.
· Anger: This is the stage in which all the anger repressed during the denial stage is released, in which we blame the other for everything that happens, where our ex-partner has nothing good and everything bad.
· Negotiation: This is the opposite stage of anger. We remember the good things, we wonder if it will be a good idea to go through the whole process of divorce or separation. You may think that you'd rather negotiate than have to face the breakup, that it's too much and you won't be able to handle it. Sometimes you feel that you were more at fault than the other person. You try to recover your life before the decision since it was finally a comfort zone, that is, a known life.
· Sadness: Staying at home watching TV with a pint of ice cream and popcorn sounds like the best plan in the world. At this stage you may feel tired all the time, you don't find conversation topics or feel like being with other people. The feeling of sadness may be accompanied by anger, frustration, discouragement, or other negative feelings. It is important that during this stage you have a support network, in which family, friends, and a therapist support you and do not allow you to isolate yourself.
· Acceptance: At this stage, we already accept the new situation, we are aware of the change and that we have to adjust to it. This does not mean that we will dispense with negative feelings, we will still feel sadness, anger, or other emotions about the divorce or separation, but we will no longer feel that it stops us from moving on with our lives.
What is not normal
If you have more than 4 symptoms on the list for more than 6 months, you may consider consulting a mental specialist.
Not being able to sleep or sleeping more than usual.
Overeating or lack of appetite.
Strange and unusual aches and pains.
Excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
Persistent negative thoughts.
Irritability or anger.
Anxiety or restlessness.
Drinking/smoking more than usual.
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Pessimism or indifference.
Loss of interest in activities that were once very rewarding for the person.
Recurrent thoughts of death.
Suicidal thoughts (immediate professional help).
Depression is a disease, therefore it is curable. It is important to understand this so that we do not feel ashamed of suffering from it and seek help. Even if we do not present all the symptoms, it can be of great help to attend therapy, as this allows us to better connect with ourselves, and our non-conscious emotions and reach our fullness more easily.
If you need professional help but don't know who to turn to, write to us, and we can refer you to excellent professionals.