Mental Health Post-Divorce: Navigating Your Emotional Journey

Did you know that research suggests people who experience a significant life event like divorce are 2.5 to 9.4 times more likely to develop depression? Divorce is a huge life transition, and the implications it can have on one’s mental health are profound. From feelings of grief and loss to heightened stress or anxiety, divorce can take a severe toll on your emotional well-being.

May is Mental Health Awareness month – a time dedicated to learning about, acting on, and advocating for mental health, whether that be for yourself or others. With divorce being such a personal and sensitive journey, it’s important to shed light on the realities of mental health during and after the legal process. If you’re recently divorced, or in the midst of the process, read on for valuable insights on prioritizing your mental well-being.

Understanding The Impact of Divorce On Mental Health

If you had existing mental health issues before and during your marriage, it’s possible that divorce has only amplified these feelings. Divorce is more than just a legal process; it’s the end of a rather important relationship, perhaps the most important in your life. Whether the end of your marriage was sudden or a long time coming, the grief and upheaval that accompanies divorce might leave you feeling uncertain and concerned for the future. Know that it’s natural to be feeling a multitude of things; whether you are experiencing grief, loss, anger, anxiety, fear, worry, or something else, you aren’t the first to feel this way, and you won’t be the last. It’s crucial to acknowledge these feelings rather than blocking them out.

In fact, in a small study by PubMed Central, research suggests that emotions can influence how we think, make decisions, and solve problems. If you don’t take the time to understand the emotions you’re experiencing, you can compromise potential for growth, healing, and moving on.

It should be noted that divorce can also negatively impact your physical health. 

Divorced Men Divorced Women
  • The mortality rate is nearly 250% greater than for married men.
  • Suffer more heart attacks and strokes than non-divorced men.
  • Less emotional support, leading to increased risk for adverse health effects.
  • Increased risk of heart attacks after a divorce.
  • 24% chance of heart attack after 1 divorce, 77% chance after a second.

Self-Care Strategies For Enhancing Mental Well-Being

Practicing self-care can significantly improve your mental health. In fact, in a national survey, 64% of Americans say self-care boosted their self-confidence, 67% say it boosted their productivity, and 71% say it boosted their happiness (all three things that can be invaluable assets after going through a divorce).

The National Institute of Mental Health recommends the following strategies for caring for your mental health:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Try relaxing activities
  • Set goals and priorities
  • Practice gratitude
  • Focus on positivity
  • Stay connected

Building A Support Network

In addition to these self-care strategies, specifically staying connected, you should also focus on building a support network. This might feel daunting at first as your spouse likely used to fill that role, but there are other people you can lean on for support during this time, like friends, family members, or even self-help groups. Turning to people who can understand what you’re going through and offer you emotional support and guidance can help you better process this transition.

Moving Forward With Resilience

What is resilience and what does it mean for you? Resilience is the outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, like divorce. You may be thinking that that’s easier said than done, and you’re right, it is. There is no “set way” to move forward after divorce. Every individual is different, and the way that you cope will look different than the others who’ve gone through this before you.

You may be at the beginning stages of adaptation, which is fine, but consider some of the following tips for finding meaning in the new experiences that lie ahead of you:

  • Embrace Your Emotions – It’s good to feel!
  • Seek Support – Surround yourself with the right people, don’t close yourself off.
  • Focus On You – Now is the greatest time to be selfish. Consider the positives of being on your own.
  • Stay Present – Try to focus on the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past, which can drag you into depressive states.

Keep in mind that resilience is not as much about bouncing back as it is moving forward. You don’t have to pretend everything is fine, but you can take small steps towards adapting and finding strength and courage in the face of adversity.

How Foxtrot Family Law Can Help

If you’re considering your options for divorce, or your mind is already made up, Foxtrot Family Law is here to help. We are familiar with the burdens associated with this trying time. Know that you are not alone and you are not a failure. It takes two to make a marriage work, and it’s possible that you were married to someone who couldn’t pull their weight, betrayed your trust, or you simply grew apart from. No matter what the reason is, know that we are here to support and guide you through the emotional journey ahead. Call Foxtrot Family Law today to request a consultation with one of our experienced, compassionate divorce attorneys. Work with lawyers who know that divorce is way more than a legal proceeding.

Additional Resources

If you’re battling feelings of depression or struggling to cope with the emotional toll of divorce, know that you’re not alone. There are resources available to you to help you through this difficult time. Reach out to a friend, family member, therapist, or resource below for help:

Alabama Crisis Centers:

Hotlines: 

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