5 Signs You're Suffering From Divorce-Induced Depression (& It's Time To Seek Help)

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It's normal to be depressed after divorce. But sometimes it's more than you can handle.

If you're experiencing signs of depression after getting a divorce, know that you're not alone. Coping with depressed feelings post-divorce is incredibly common.

No matter how amicable your divorce experience, the decision to get divorced comes with high-intensity emotions that can seriously affect your mental health. The energy it takes to walk out of a relationship usually isn’t accompanied by a simple handshake.

The emotions that follow tend to get ramped up, which is why it can be confusing when the heart and mind begin to balance and a sense of feeling depressed comes over you. The loss and trauma are real and intense, whether you were the one who wanted out or were the one who was left. 


RELATED: 17 Positive Signs That You're Handling Your Divorce Like A BOSS


What is post-divorce depression?

The Mayo Clinic says, “Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.”

Anyone going through a divorce is experiencing some, if not all, of these “mood disorders.” One of the major reasons why depression occurs (not including age, changes in hormones, inherited traits, and general brain chemistry) is "trauma or stressful events, low self-esteem, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems."

Shame causes people to pull-in and isolate themselves, which just contributes to the sense of being unworthy of friendship or being loved. It causes you to second guess yourself and to be self-critical. The cycle feeds upon itself and the more you feel bad about yourself — what you did or didn’t do (what you could or couldn’t do). And the worse this gets, the more depressed you feel and the more you want to pull in and hide.

Before you go see a therapist about your divorce depression,  here are some helpful actions you can take:

  • Get daily exercise
  • Spend some time out doors
  • Eat well
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs, which may be used as coping mechanisms
  • Try to keep up a couple good social connections
  • Find meaningful work or a hobby to help you
  • Understand your purpose for being here

However, if you find these steps aren't helping to ease your depression after getting a divorce, you may need to seek professional help.

Here are 4 signs you need some professional help dealing with your divorce-induced depression:

1. You're not taking care of your health and well-being.

There are behaviors that are OK when you're depressed following a divorce, and there are signs that things are not OK and you're much more seriously depressed than you realize. 

If you’re overeating or maybe under-eating, know that both those practices are pretty normal when coping with depression after a divorce. But if these practices continue for weeks, months, even years on end, please reach out for some help. Your health and stamina will be seriously impacted if you keep this up long-term.

2. You can't find the motivation to carry out your daily responsibilities.

If you’re unable to get out of bed some days (especially the days when your kids are with their other parent), understand this is pretty normal. But if you’re unable to get out of bed and feed your kids or go to work even on the days when they're not, please reach out to a professional and get yourself some help immediately.

Likewise, if you go into manic overboard trying to stay busy and "do it all", this might be a sign you're at risk and help for your depression

No one is worth hurting yourself over!


RELATED: 12 Realistic Ways To FINALLY Get Over Your Divorce


3. You're avoiding your feelings with drugs or alcohol.

If you’re using or drinking too much — and especially if you’ve had a history of coping with trauma with drugs or alcohol in the past — it's obvious you should stop and seek help for this behavior.

There are millions of people who use drugs and alcohol to avoid feelings because they're afraid of what those feelings mean for them. So get some help with these practices, too.

4. Your emotions are limiting your abilities.

If you’re crying a lot or angry with everyone, you may want to speak with a therapist or a coach because that anger or those tears may be hormonally-related (which would make sense) but could also be a sign of self-esteem issues. However, being angry or crying a lot after a traumatic loss is totally natural! Those feelings are normal!

But when they interfere with your work or your familial relationships, you’ll probably want to get some support and perspective on your divorce.

5. You've started believing that suicide is the only way out.

There will be times during your divorce when you may feel life isn’t worth living. Those are the super dark moments most of us go through. (If you didn’t go through them while married and filled with disappointment and fear.) But if you’re suicidal, then for sure a therapist or MD is needed. Try to remind yourself that no human being is worth hurting yourself over, even though it feels like a devastating loss.

You’re not alone. Coping with depression after divorce is incredibly common, and surrounding yourself with support is part of that solution.

At times the shame and stigma of coping with depression due to divorce is very debilitating yet, you are the only one truly in your own way.

When you feel down, it feels almost impossible to risk being seen. You're afraid of being ostracized and criticized, and sometimes it seems easier to stay hidden in your home than it is to reach out and get the help you need.

Don't forget, you can feel better about yourself. Risking being seen as imperfect isn’t truly difficult, but it does require a lot of courage. And if you're feeling this way after divorce, it's important to dig deep to find that courage and help yourself. You have so much to offer the world!

When you’re experiencing signs of depression due to divorce, it’s difficult to reach out for help.

Most people are willing to see a therapist after divorce. Therapists can be truly helpful after getting a divorce because they're trained to help you understand what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. Plus, the sessions give you a place to vent, talk through your issues, and grasp what had been going on during your marriage. 

As a result, seeing a therapist to help you get through your depression post-divorce can help you shift your mood and make some room to move forward amidst your current feelings of self-criticism.

So find a mentor, a coach, a therapist, or a group you can join that will help you move away from your pain toward a better future. You’re worthy of being happy no matter what may or may not have happened in your family. And try to stay away from people who continue to stir the pot and have you feel bad about yourself.

Do your best to get a big perspective about where you are and focus on where you can be in the future.


RELATED: How To Move On After Divorce When It's Tearing You Apart Inside


Laura Bonarrigo is a certified life coach and a certified divorce coach at LauraBonarrigo.com. She's a writer, public speaker, and the founder of doingDivorce™ School, an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit doingDivorceSchool.com

This article was originally published at Laura Bonarrigo. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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