By Tracy Achen
Experiencing grief and depression from divorce is common when a person's marriage ends. The sense of loss can be comparable to the pain of losing a loved one. In essence, it is the death of your marriage. It can be a very sad time in your life as you lay to rest all the dashed hopes and dreams. Right now, you may feel as if you’ll never love anyone the way that you loved your husband.
Your pain is real, and as you begin your divorce recovery you may experience some or all of the following symptoms of depression from divorce to some extent:
The Mayo Clinic has additional information about the various symptoms and treatments for depression.
While it is normal to feel these things off and on, you should consult your doctor if you are experiencing at least four of these symptoms on a daily basis for a prolonged period. Your symptoms may be caused by lingering depression. When you are facing these on a continual basis, there is no shame in asking for help. When there is a death in the family, people offer their support. When a divorce occurs, this help is often lacking, so you may need to seek out your own support. Just remember that you probably won't feel this way forever.
For the time being though, depression from divorce can seem to color everything in your life. So how do you get beyond this empty feeling?
First, begin to realistically examine what actually happened in your marriage. Start to forgive yourself for mistakes you may have made. Maybe you weren't perfect, but you are basically a good person. You can't go back and change the past, so let it go and allow yourself to find contentment in the here and now.
You still have much to be thankful for, even with the inevitable changes that divorce brings. Actively try to find joy in the life you have right now. Be thankful for the birds singing, for the wonderful smell of your first cup of coffee, for the angelic look on your children’s faces as they sleep, or the friend’s shoulder you can lean on.
Allow yourself some of the simple pleasures in life, such as reading an uplifting book, getting outside to enjoy the sunshine, or baking chocolate chip cookies. You can also use aromatherapy to help lighten your mood. Rose oil is often used as a natural depression treatment and is definitely worth a try.
Sometimes it helps to remove the things that bring back depressing memories. Arrange the house to your liking, take off your wedding band, and put away those wedding pictures. Why plunge yourself into despair when you don’t have to.
Start keeping a journal to track when you are feeling depressed. Is there a certain time of the day or maybe something that triggers your sadness? Once you find a pattern, choose to remove yourself from the situation that makes you sad and do something different. In other words, don’t subject yourself to the pain.
When you’re feeling blue, mentally tell yourself that you choose to be happy, regardless of your situation. It may feel fake, but emotions have a way of grabbing hold of your attitude. Wouldn't you rather your attitude be one of joy and happiness?
If you find yourself overwhelmed with your situation, give yourself permission to not think about it for a while. Think of it as a mental health break. Paste a smile on your face (even if you don’t feel like it), compliment someone, or do something nice for a friend or neighbor. The idea is to stop focusing on your misery, and start looking beyond yourself. There is true joy when you brighten someone else’s day.
If this just doesn’t seem to work, set aside 15 or 30 minutes a day to allow yourself to be sad. If you find yourself reminiscing during the day, tell yourself that it will just have to wait until the scheduled down time. When this time arrives, allow yourself to feel the sadness that has been hounding you. Feel it fully, but once your time is up, tell yourself that you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to be miserable again. As the days pass, you’ll find yourself making less and less use of this time. Eventually, you won’t even need it.
You can use your divorce as a stepping stone to a better life. Yes, things have changed, but this is no excuse to give up on life. You won’t always feel this devastated. As time passes, you will feel the sting of your divorce less and less. In fact, the majority of people who divorce come to view it as a positive step in their lives. You can also.
Below are other articles with suggestions and coping techniques for handling depression from divorce and other emotions: