Everyone’s divorce experience is different. Some people are able to end things amicably and peacefully. Others have to go through contentious court battles. Some people will even fight over custody arrangements, property, or other assets.
But there’s one thing almost every divorce has in common—stress.
Even the “easiest” divorces are still stressful. You’re still losing a part of your life and a person that meant something to you. Because of that, it’s okay to grieve.
Of course, the stress of a divorce isn’t just something to ignore. If you try to continuously brush it off as normal without taking action to get help, you could start to develop mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
So, how exactly does the stress of divorce impact your mental health? And what can you do about it?
Grief and Mental Health
On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, divorce is listed as the second most stressful phase of life events a person can experience. It comes right after the stress levels experienced due to the death of a spouse.
People respond to stress in different ways. Again, remember that a divorce is a loss. Some people have to go through the grieving process in order to be able to cope and move on with their lives.
This is a process that includes accepting the reality of the situation and may include going through stages of:
Even if your divorce was amicable, the grief process can still cause mental health issues. You might not have the same interests in things that you used to have. Additionally, you might isolate yourself or avoid talking to people you love.
It’s easy to feel depressed when you’re going through a divorce because you don’t exactly know how to respond. No one gets married assuming they’re going to end up separated. So, it’s easy to feel like a failure, even if the divorce wasn’t your fault.
Though, placing blame on yourself or wondering what you could have done to change things will only add to your stress levels and can make you feel worse.
Anxiety About the Future
If your marriage didn’t end on good terms, it can create a whole slew of different mental health problems. First, a divorce can have a negative effect on your self-esteem and confidence. You can feel like you lost a piece of yourself in the separation, which can also lead to identity issues.
Many people also have worries about the future after getting divorced. You might not know what the next chapter of your life looks like now that you’re on your own. Money issues, where you’ll live, and worrying about how your children will be impacted can all add to the stress.
From Mental to Physical Health Issues
The effects of mental health issues after a divorce can be serious, especially if you don’t talk to someone about what you’re going through. But those mental health issues can quickly cross over into physical problems.
For example, people who struggle with anxiety or feel overwhelmed with stress often look for different ways to cope. Many times, drugs and alcohol are the mechanisms of choice. Unfortunately, those coping platforms usually only lead to more turmoil.
If you fall into a depression, it can also impact the way you take care of your body. It’s not uncommon for people who are depressed to have trouble sleeping or to form unhealthy eating habits. Again, it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, as these habits can make you feel worse.
Making Mental Health a Priority After a Divorce
The pain and grief of divorce won’t just magically go away. But taking the initiative to talk to someone and get the help you need can make a big difference.
If you’re going through a divorce or you need help re-establishing your sense of self, please contact the San Diego Divorce Counseling Center at www.DivorceCounselingCenter.com and click the Book Online button, or call us at 619-865-3203, to set up an appointment