Handling Depression and Stress During Divorce

Divorce can be stressful not only for the couple coping with separation, but for the entire family. Especially in India, it amounts to a family breakup. It is a normal reaction to be shocked and go through a phase of sadness during separation from your spouse.

The stress of separating your entire life from each other can be stressful often leading to depression and low self-esteem. However, each individual who goes through divorce experiences varying levels of emotional and mental discomfort. Some people go through extreme stages of emotional stress while others move through the divorce hurdles with more skill.

Divorce stress syndrome, is an actual medical condition in which the person going through divorce, experiences panic attacks, sleeplessness, or crippling back pain.

Lot of research has proven that divorces take a worrying toll on the health. In fact, high-conflict divorces are seen as so traumatic that they have been categorized as one of the triggers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Typically, PTSD is a condition associated with accident victims or soldiers in war zones and the symptoms include flashbacks, unsocial behavior, heightened anxiety, insomnia and psychosomatic illness. Women are twice as likely compared to men to suffer from PTSD.

An entire family can break-up during a nasty divorce. It is not uncommon for divorcing individuals to go through a grieving process similar to a death in the family. A loss of companionship, support, hope, plans and dreams involves grieving. The stages of divorce recovery include the following steps:

  • Grief and Sorrow:

The emotional roller coaster you undergo during a divorce is no less than a death of an immediate family member. Phases of grief are denial of the happenings in your life, anger and resentment of how something like this can happen to you, bargaining to make the relationship work, depression of the relationship falling apart and finally, acceptance of the reality of the divorce. Identifying which stage you belong to will help you think clearly and make better decisions and will help your family understand your emotional thought process.

  • Guilt and Shame:

Many people feel that they failed to fulfill their vow of staying married for life. Although itís personal, you also feel guilt towards your communityís expectations. If divorce is bad for your culture, then you might be extra guilty. The guilt and shame frequently translate to anger or depression, which are more tolerable feelings without even knowing it. It becomes difficult to accept your own responsibility in the failed marriage.

  • Fear and Anxiety:

Your body reacts to the stress of divorce by a ďfight or flightĒ response. Symptoms such as increase in heart rate, increase adrenaline, hot flashes and anxiety attacks occur during such fight or flight responses. Men and women who feel muddled and overwhelmed due to divorce tend to return back to old habits of thought and action rather than looking into the situation and selecting the best choices for the future. Finally, you become unable to think clearly or make a rational decision.

Although a divorce is devastating for both genders, women feel more depressed by the sudden end of marriage. Typically, women have their future dreams wrapped up in their marriage, but divorce causes an unexpected riot in their lives. Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the most valuable lessons you learn following a divorce. As you feel the emotions of loss and manage stress, you can resolve to take better care of yourself and make positive choices going forward in life after divorce. Some depression busters to keep up with the emotional changes during a divorce are listed below. These will help you make sure you keep yourself well and donít give in to the stress and depression. Here are some ways that will help you in dealing with depression and get over the divorce hangover.

  • Make Time for Yourself:

Read or take up a hobby and help yourself heal. Schedule a time for your daily activities that calm and soothe you. Go for a walk in a garden or forest, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favorite book, take a yoga class, or savor a warm cup of tea. Meet friends and get your daily dose of laughter.

  • Take the High Road:

Is it better to be happy and at peace rather than be right? Your spouse was probably not responsible for all the terrible things that you reported to your lawyer. Is it worth fighting for all of it or is it better to end the marriage in a friendly divorce? This is a question you must think about before getting into the revenge game. Try to pay attention to what you need at the moment and fulfill it.

  • Plan and Make a Routine:

A divorce can unsettle almost every area of your life, increasing feelings of stress, insecurity, and chaos. Getting back into a regular routine can deliver a reassuring feel of structure and normalcy. On the other hand, changing the routine completely can also help you forget your stress even if it is only for a while. Keep a diary to manage stress and cope with the separation. If your old job reminds you of your spouse, then change your job and make new friends. Plan a holiday or an outing with your kids.

  • Donít be a Stereotype:

Donít let people pity you. They will think that just because you have undergone a divorce, you are definitely shattered. It is probably true, but some people are strong, so donít let other people talk you down. Importantly, avoid using alcohol, drugs, or food to cope. These are just a temporary escape from your problems, but destructive in the long run.

  • Organize and Clean Up:

As far as possible, try not to make any major decisions during the phase of emotional instability. For starters, clean up and get organized in your house. Return or get rid of your spouseís possessions so that they donít constantly remind you of old memories. In contrast, preserve your energy and donít put all your energy in forgetting old memories and cleaning up, keep it simple. Do not overexert yourself.

  • Share your Wisdom:

Life after divorce can be challenging in many ways. Normally, our boundaries keep us from talking about such a sensitive topic. However, your divorce may free you to become the person you are really meant to be. So inspire a friend who might be stuck in an abusive relationship to get out now, so that they know that divorce isnít the death sentence that people think it is.

  • Ignore the Horror:

The most daunting aspect of getting divorced is getting uncalled-for advice from everyone around you. Ignore these as you know which ones are bitter and full of anger and which ones are for care and insight.

  • Exercise:

Exercising is a stress buster. Walking and laughing exercises are known to release any negative energy and help you overcome any depression after divorce.

In conclusion, when a family breaks up, it is essential that you replace it with something meaningful. If you donít have support of family and friends, there are various other support groups out there for you. Keeping an empty space in life will only make you blame yourself at some point in the divorce process. For a stress free divorce, forget the blaming and find good friends who may give you good advice and focus on your positive qualities rather than negative ones. Overcome the bad relationship with a positive note and you will get to the light at the end of the long tunnel.


  1. Avoiding conflict - (http://www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk/relationships-conflict/avoiding-conflict/)
  2. Dealing with a Breakup or Divorce - (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/family-divorce/coping-with-a-breakup-or-divorce.htm)
  3. Dealing with stress and depression during divorce and separation - (http://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/divorce-and-separation/thinking-about-divorce/dealing-with-stress-and-depression-during-divorce-and-separation/)
  4. How do I move on after divorce? - (http://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-separation-and-divorce/separation-and-divorce-common-problems/how-do-i-move-after-divorce)

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