Key Takeaways Key Takeaways
  • Post-divorce Depression is a common but often overlooked consequence of the end of a marriage.

  • Men are at a greater risk of suffering from depression after divorce.

  • Several coping strategies can help, including allowing yourself time to grieve, prioritizing your mental and physical well-being, and confiding in a support network.

5 Tips to Deal with Depression After Divorce

Divorce is a life-altering event that often leaves people emotionally drained and susceptible to various mental health issues, including Depression. Even when both partners agree that a marriage must end, heartbreak and disappointment can trigger a range of negative emotions—sadness, Anger, confusion, and more. Post-divorce Depression isn’t just about feeling sad—it’s a complex emotional state that impacts your daily life and mental well-being.

What is Post-Divorce Depression?

Post-divorce Depression is a specific form of Depression that arises as a result of the aftermath of a marital separation or divorce. Unlike the temporary sadness or emotional turbulence often accompanying a breakup, this form of Depression is more enduring. It impacts various facets of life, including self-esteem, daily routines, and social interactions. People experiencing post-divorce Depression often struggle with feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and diminished interest in activities they once enjoyed. Their emotional well-being deteriorates, affecting relationships with family and friends and sometimes leading to physical symptoms like insomnia and loss of appetite.

Who is Impacted by Depression After Divorce?

Divorce is associated with higher rates of major depression in both men and women. However, only men have a greater risk of developing major depression for the first time after a divorce.

There are many reasons for this, including the fact that women are more likely than men to build a support network of friends and family to assist them during this difficult time and to seek professional help.

According to Steven Guglielmi, LCCC-S, many men struggle with self-identity and what is expected of men in our society. One of the most prominent components is this expectation to be strong and to create a stoic presence, which creates a lot of underlying expectations in men in general. “We do males a disservice because we give them a very limited view of what masculinity should be. And I think what you’re saying is that they’re strong and stoic, but then we’re not allowing men to actually show and feel their emotions, and then we hold it against them when they don’t share their emotions. So, I think we just really back men into a corner.”

Ken’s Quest: Unpacking Male Fragility – Podcast

Children are not immune to these emotional ramifications either. A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicates that children also exhibit symptoms of Depression and Anxiety post-divorce, affecting not only their emotional state but also their academic performance and social interactions.

The point is that Depression after divorce is an inclusive condition, affecting people across all age groups, genders, and circumstances, emphasizing the importance of addressing it promptly and effectively.

What are the Signs of Post-Divorce Depression?

Recognizing the signs of post-divorce Depression is crucial for timely intervention and effective management. Emotional exhaustion, social withdrawal, and a sense of hopelessness are often the most visible indicators. Additionally, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of appetite, and persistent sadness can also be telltale signs.

Understanding the full scope of symptoms allows for a more proactive approach to Mental Health after divorce. Here’s a summarized list to help you recognize if you or someone you know may be experiencing post-divorce Depression:

  • Emotional exhaustion or fatigue
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Persistent sadness or a feeling of emptiness
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, either insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Decreased interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness

Women tend to have symptoms like sadness, worthlessness, or guilt. Men, on the other hand, may become overly irritable or have difficulty sleeping. Men are also more likely than women to begin abusing drugs or alcohol to cope if they’re experiencing depression after divorce.

5 Ways to Deal with Depression After a Divorce

Navigating the tumultuous waters of emotional well-being after a divorce can be challenging, but there are actionable steps you can take to make the journey a bit smoother. Below are some strategies to manage post-Divorce Depression effectively.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Denying or suppressing your emotions won’t make them go away—it will only delay the healing process. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve the end of your marriage. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or even relieved. Your feelings are valid and recognizing them is the first step in healing.

Prioritize Your Mental and Physical Health

The mind-body connection plays a pivotal part in how we feel. Regular exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Moreover, a balanced diet rich in nutrients can significantly impact your mental health. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Even a 30-minute walk, for example, can do wonders for your mood and health.

It may feel more difficult than ever to find the motivation to exercise or cook healthy meals. However, there’s a huge payoff when it comes to your mental health when you make the extra effort after divorce. Not only are you taking care of yourself, but exercising can also help you keep your mind off the situation at hand, giving you a much-needed break from racing thoughts.

Confide in Your Loved Ones

Isolation only exacerbates Depression. Reach out to your friends and family for support. Emotional support can be a lifeline when dealing with Depression. Sometimes all it takes is knowing someone is there for you. Speak openly about your feelings and concerns, and don’t hesitate to lean on others when needed. Chances are, someone close to you has experienced the same feelings or knows how to hold space for yours. Never underestimate the power of community, especially when you’re going through a divorce.

Try to Busy Yourself with Volunteer Work

Volunteering can be an excellent way to divert your mind and add a sense of purpose to your life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Mental Health benefits of volunteering include developing more confidence and finding meaning and purpose in life. It helps you take your mind off your worries and can help you put your problems into perspective.

Accept Help

One of the most challenging aspects of coping with Depression is the feeling that you must handle everything yourself. Accepting help, whether emotional support from loved ones or professional assistance, is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance if your symptoms feel too heavy to manage independently. Licensed counselors and therapists are well-versed in helping people process the web of emotions tied to divorce, and they’re here to help you find clarity.

One thing NOT to do after a divorce is to jump into a rebound relationship hastily. There are several reasons why this is not advisable. Firstly, it often stems from a desire to fill the emotional void left by the previous relationship, rather than seeking genuine connection and companionship. This can lead to rushing into something without taking the time to reflect on what went wrong in the previous marriage and what you truly need in a partner, which can exacerbate feelings of emptiness and confusion. Secondly, unresolved emotional baggage from the divorce can be carried into the new relationship, potentially causing similar issues or conflicts to arise, which can further contribute to depressive feelings. Moreover, rebound relationships can lack the emotional depth and stability required for a healthy, long-lasting connection, potentially worsening depressive symptoms.

Seeking Professional Help When Dealing with Divorce

If your symptoms of Depression persist or worsen, it may be time to seek professional help. Dealing with post-divorce Depression can be complicated, and sometimes a multi-faceted approach is the best way to manage it. Here are some options:

Psychotherapy

Also known as Talk Therapy, Psychotherapy provides a safe space for you to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors with a mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often effective in treating Depression and can equip you with practical skills to manage your emotional well-being.

Antidepressant Medications

Sometimes, Psychotherapy alone might not be sufficient, and medication may be recommended. Antidepressants can make it easier to manage Depression symptoms by helping to balance the chemicals in your brain. However, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and suitable treatment plan.

Final Thoughts

You can navigate this strenuous time with the right strategies and support system and come out stronger. Whether it’s through opening up to loved ones, engaging in physical activity, or seeking professional help, numerous avenues are available for you to manage and overcome your post-divorce Depression.

Professional guidance can provide you with the tools to not only cope with post-divorce Depression but also to build a new, fulfilling life. If you’re struggling with Depression after a divorce, don’t hesitate to seek assistance. From Psychotherapy to medication management, we can provide the tailored support you need. Learn more about how we can help.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults suffering from a variety of mental health issues in an outpatient care setting, both in-person and through its digital health telemedicine offering.


Reviewed By

Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S
Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

Nicholette is a faculty member at John Carroll University’s Clinical Counseling program, and she is also the host of the LifeStance podcast, Convos from the Couch.