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The Impact of Divorce on Mental Health

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The five most stressful situations in life are: death of a loved one, divorce, moving, illness and major injury, as well as losing your job. Sadly, all of us face these stressful and heart-wrenching situations in life at some time or another. 

If you are going through a divorce, you might wonder how it will impact your mental health and what you can do to cope. Whether you’re happy that you are getting a divorce or heartbroken, you can get through this hard time. 

Divorce and mental health

Divorce can really wreak havoc on your emotional health. For some people, you might have expected to be with your partner for the rest of your life; so when you face a divorce, you could feel overwhelming anxiety, depression, rage, and hopelessness. You could even feel ashamed, resentful, and unsure of why things went wrong. The sad thing is that these feelings could last for months or even years if you don’t deal with your emotions in healthy ways.

The whole process of divorce and child custody may trigger an adjustment disorder, depression, and anxiety in your children.

According to OnlineDivorce, divorce is listed as the second most stressful situation that a person could encounter during their lives. If you have children involved, you might wonder how your divorce will affect them. You could worry about how to tell your children about your divorce and what they might think; this alone can cause a great amount of stress.

Many people begin to isolate themselves from friends and family, which adds to their feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and insecurity. If your spouse cheated on you, you might suffer from feelings of worthlessness, anger, and confusion. Some people get a divorce straight way that they actually file divorce online

All of these very strong emotions could lead to destructive behaviour; for example alcohol abuse, drug abuse, promiscuous sexual relations (like continuous one-night stands, which could increase your risk of HIV and AIDS), and overspending on unnecessary items to help you cope. Your physical health could also begin to deteriorate. 

Divorce and physical health

According to HealthLine, you might begin to suffer from forms of eating disorders. Which is common among couples who are going through a divorce. Often when people are depressed, they stop eating which can cause malnutrition and weight loss. If this is the case, you could be prone to more colds and flu, heart disease. And if you stop eating, your anxiety levels will also increase.

Some people, though could find themselves on the opposite end of the scale. These people could end up comfort eating, binge eating and overeating. Food might make them feel comforted. They could then pick up a lot of weight, which is also bad for your health. This can increase blood pressure, cholesterol and increase your chances of a heart attack and obesity.

Divorce and stress

Divorce can be really stressful and stress leads to depression. People who feel depressed use alcohol or drugs to help them feel better. One study showed that men tend to suffer more during a divorce because they are emotionally unprepared for divorce. Men also tend to keep their feelings bottled up, and that’s why more men tend to drink after a divorce in order to cope.

Couples who have substance abuse issues before a divorce also tend to have a higher divorce rate than couples who do not experience substance abuse during a marriage. 

Research also shows that divorced men are more likely to be at risk of death, than their married counterparts, because of destructive behaviours. Intrusive thoughts could also become a problem during a divorce. Depression could bring along thoughts of suicide. If you have any of these thoughts, do not take it lightly – seek help immediately.

The sad thing is that if children are involved during a divorce, parents, self-destructive behaviours could cause severe emotional damage to their children. Parents or even couples who do not have children need to find healthier ways to cope with divorce. The whole process of divorce and child custody may trigger an adjustment disorder, depression, and anxiety in your children.

How to cope with divorce

If you are going through a divorce, how can you find healthy ways to cope? There are many methods available to help you cope during a divorce. If you are struggling with any of the above-mentioned problems, seek help from a therapist.

Psychologists are trained to help you cope during a divorce. They can offer great advice on ways to cope. Talking about how you feel, your ex and your marriage can do so much good for your mental state. They might also offer cognitive behavioural therapy, which will help to train your mind to think more positively. 

Keep yourself busy. You join a yoga group or do any type of physical exercise with friends or family. Try to keep a healthy diet going. Good food will fuel your soul and give you the added nutrients your body needs to keep going.

By exercising and keeping a healthy diet going you will be able to manage feelings of stress and anxiety and anger. Exercising releases endorphins, and endorphins are feel-good hormones; which is exactly what you need during a divorce.

Make sure that you get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can cause many health problems. If you are struggling to sleep due to stress, see your healthcare provider. If you feel as if you are not coping, you could always ask your GP for advice on medications to help you cope. You might be able to find herbal remedies that could help, or if your doctor prescribes an antidepressant to help you cope, then it would be advisable to listen to your doctor.

Another great way to cope is to surround yourself with friends and family. Remember, you are not alone. As mentioned earlier, many people tend to isolate themselves when they feel depressed. If you need some time alone, that’s fine but make sure that you don’t hide in the depths of despair for too long.

Being around people who love and care for you can really help you feel better. If you have a support system, you will be more likely to cope in a healthy way.

Many men are taught from young to block out their emotions, but give yourself permission to feel. If you feel depressed, angry, confused, allow yourself to feel. Emotions are a normal part of life and bottling them up inside, will only cause more pain. 

More tips

Try to create the new life you want and deserve. Find a new hobby, or if you can, take a small holiday to help you find yourself again. Sometimes a change of scenery could be all you need to heal. 

If money is a problem, you could always see a financial planner who can help you work out a budget for your new life.

Rather than spending, to help you cope, try to find ways to manage your money or invest what you have to help you secure a financially stable future.

If you need to find work, you could always find a job you have always wanted to do. Or study what you have always wanted to study while you work. A divorce could mean a great new chapter in your life, where you could find happiness and be the person you have always wanted to be.


Your mental health can take a hard knock during a divorce, but you can control whether or not your divorce will destroy you or not. Find comfort in knowing that so many people feel the same way as you do. So many people have experienced the heartache, anger, resentment, and anxiety that you are feeling now. These people have come through on the other side victorious. Seek the help that you need and know that you are not alone. Depression and anxiety are curable and remember the sun always shines again after a storm.

Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of  Edinburgh.

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