What Are the Effects of Divorce on Your Mental Health
Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful situations in life. It is not surprising that it can influence emotional health and stability, especially if conflicts were a part of the relationship before it ended. With the pandemic in full swing around the world, the pressure to spend time together, and reduced opportunities for separated activities, it’s no wonder the divorce rates are rising.
Typical effects of divorce on psychological and emotional life are:
- Guilt – often followed with questions “was this necessary?”, “did I have to hurt my loved ones” and similar, that often can lead to questioning the decision
- Anxiety – fear for the future, primarily if the marriage’s economic part was unevenly distributed or uncertain.
- Identity crisis – After a marriage that lasted a long time, the fear of being able to function alone or be the whole person again can often manifest.
- Insomnia – feelings of pain or intrusive thoughts can often prevent normal resting. They also may result in waking in the middle of the night and staying awake, with unpleasant dreams or even nightmares.
Men and women react differently to divorce. For example, studies show that divorced women have a 24% higher chance of suffering a heart attack as opposed to a 77% increase for men. Divorced men also exhibit a higher mortality rate, around 250% more than married ones. They also have an increased chance of getting cancer.
Even when expected, the procedure of divorce can be stressful. Stress can reduce your ability to cope with everyday pressure and your physical wellbeing. Prolonged, it can lead to mental problems, including depression. People often try to deal with increased stress through substance abuse. Also, physical health can be compromised, and there’s a higher frequency of illnesses such as colds or flu. Changes in eating habits are expected, and weight may become an issue.
If you feel stressed, it would be good to look for the help of a professional. A licensed counselor or therapist can offer you support and guidance throughout the process. They can also help you deal with stress, improve your understanding of the relationship with your ex, and prepare you for the future.
The divorce may lead to guilt, accusations, and finger-pointing. This is especially true if the problems were present during the marriage. Problematic behavior such as substance abuse, volatile arguments, domestic violence, and similar issues can make one of the parties look responsible for all the problems.
Laws are different in every country. For example, Australian law defines domestic violence as any type of physical or psychological attempt to harm or dominate one’s partner. So, if your soon-to-be-ex showed any abusive behavior in the past or is threatening you, create physical distance as soon as possible, contact the authorities, and look for professional guidance by contacting criminal lawyers in Sydney. They can help you by preparing groundwork that supports your case, filing restraining orders, etc. While it may not be the foremost thing on your mind, try to document instances of abuse, it will help you later on.
Even though it can be hard to avoid conflict in certain situations, it is worth attempting a civil resolution. Coming from a personal experience, I suggest investing in a mediator. He/she will take a neutral role and help you achieve an agreement that works for both parties.
Divorce can be traumatic for children as well, so if you have kids, it is advisable to monitor them. Stress from the caregivers can be easily carried over to kids. If you are a parent that kids spent less time with, they may experience disaffection. They may react with mood swings, withdrawal, aggressive behavior.
Be sure to talk to them a lot and ask how they feel. It is essential to explain to the kids that parents still love them and that the divorce isn’t their fault in any way. Provide routine as they need stability and structure. Also, if possible, try to keep your relationship with your ex as functional as possible, as that may send a positive message to kids – you may not be together anymore, but you can still work together and be amicable.
In the end, most of the people survive through the whole ordeal and continue their lives. Many find new partners and often marry again. So, if you are going through a rough divorce, don’t lose hope. Some relationships are better when they end, and mistakes are there as lessons and reminders to take time when choosing a partner in the future.
2020 has shown to be a tough year for everyone. If you are going through a divorce this year on top of it, like I am, hang in there… It too shall pass. Celebrate little victories, be kind to yourself and others, and cherish moments with your loved one.
If you have any additional tips on how to deal with the stress of a divorce, please share them below.
G.P Peter Minkoff