Depression and Divorce

Life can become strange after depression and divorce for anyone anywhere from a few weeks to many years. Emotions may run high during this time. It is also possible for you to be more prone to certain conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and various physical conditions.

Psychological depression and clinical depression are two different things. Psychological depression occurs due to traumatic life events such as divorce. It is also known as adjustment disorder or situational depression. Situational depression and clinical depression both present in similar ways.

People who experience depression after a divorce may also engage in other behaviors, such as:

  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Lack of focus at work
  • Fighting

Consult a counselor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or if you are feeling depressed after divorce. A counselor can suggest a support network or a course of action.

Symptoms of depression due to divorce

Most people associate depression with sadness. There are many signs of depression due to divorce. Here are some common symptoms of clinical and situational depression:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Less interest in previous hobbies and activities
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Crying spells
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Pessimism and hopelessness, as well as the sense of not being worthy
  • Suicidal thoughts

These symptoms must be present in order for depression to be diagnosed.

Depression manifests differently in men and women. Female depression usually manifests as feelings of worthlessness, guilt and sadness. Men who suffer from depression may experience insomnia, irritability, and binge drinking or drug use. In general, women suffer from depression more than men do after a divorce. Unfortunately, men tend to hide their depression from other people.

When to see a doctor

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts. Often, opening up over the phone to a nonjudgmental person you don’t know is easier than to a friend or family member.  They can help you overcome the temptation to give up.

If you have been experiencing depression symptoms for over two weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Take a friend with you if you need help preparing for your appointment. Keep a list of your main symptoms nearby. Keep a note of your medications and supplements, too.

You may be prescribed:

The doctor may also recommend:

  • Art therapy
  • Massage or acupuncture as alternative treatments
  • Yoga or exercise classes as relaxation methods

Pre-existing depression and divorce

When one partner has a mental illness, such as clinical depression, the risk of divorce is two times higher. It is possible that couples who share a similar level of mental distress are less likely to divorce over health issues. It may be that they understand and relate to each other’s health challenges better than couples who have different levels of distress.

Two people in a relationship experiencing similar mental distress are more likely to divorce than two people who don’t suffer from the same disorder.  Thus, researchers have concluded that couples who suffer from mental distress are more likely to divorce.

Tips for managing post-divorce depression

It is not just the partners who are affected by divorce. It also impacts the children of divorcing couples, their friends, and their wider family.  It is crucial to have a strong support system as you go through a divorce.

The process of coping with all your feelings can take a lot of energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will feel tired. These tips can help you to recover:

Write in a journal

Keeping a journal is a good practice even if you have a support network. There is no need to hide anything. Another way to purge your feelings is to write a letter to your former spouse if you desire closure. It doesn’t have to be sent to the person you separated from.

Exercise daily

Don’t let feeling lazy stop you from exercising. Researchers have found that brisk walking for 20 to 40 minutes three times a week can help treat depression.

Eat healthy

It is possible that you are more likely to turn to comfort foods or alcohol than usual. Make sure you have healthy foods available. Consider eating healthy snacks instead of alcohol or unhealthy foods.

Pamper yourself

Watch a feel-good movie or take a long, uninterrupted bath to pamper yourself. Consider hiring someone to babysit your children so that you can do this.

Accept help

There may be a period of adjustment during which you have less energy. If you are asked to help with cooking, child care, or household chores, please accept. It is possible to repay the favor later.


If you’re feeling down, spending time with people has the power to help you cope with your feelings. Engage people who will listen to you, but who will also be willing to help you change your attitude when it is necessary.


You are more likely to be depressed if you experience insomnia, and insomnia, in turn, increases your chances of being depressed. Take a bath or shower, have a cup of chamomile tea, or read a book before you go to bed if you have trouble falling asleep. Do not use electronic devices that could cause you to wake up during the night.


There will be a lot of feelings and thoughts after a divorce. You’ll be able to cope and get back to normal soon. Organize your day into small goals.

Staying optimistic is key.  When you are having a tough day, remember that you are worth it. Start every day by remembering that.