Divorce & Your Mental Health

Many people will describe the experience of a divorce as one of life’s most stressful events, up until the death of someone they love or dealing with a serious illness. Beyond dealing with the legal complexities, a divorce will also make you question the status of your financial health, which can affect how you feel mentally. With a potential change in where you live and how you interact with your children, there are a ton of new scenarios that the mind has to process. This has the power to affect your sense of self-worth and confidence. By understanding the relationship between divorce and mental health, individuals can take more informed steps to ensure a resilient recovery.

What Are the Main Areas of Mental Health Impact After a Divorce?

Divorce can impact several areas of one’s mental health, including:

  • Depression and Anxiety: Accepting the fact that a marriage that you once thought would last forever is now ending can cause all sorts of upsetting thoughts that boost depression and anxiety. This is especially true if the end of the marriage was unexpected or sudden, like in scenarios where one partner had an affair. If you feel responsible for the divorce, constantly thinking about what you should have done differently or should have said can manifest in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Grief: While no one has passed away, the feeling of grief creeps in as if someone has. You are mourning the end of a relationship and potentially grieving for things that you may no longer have, such as annual holiday traditions or a support system to handle the kid’s activities. This is a normal reaction to a divorce, and how long the feelings last varies for each person.
  • Reduced Self-Esteem: It’s not unusual to feel a sense of personal failure or not being able to turn off a doubting inner voice saying that you are not worthy. This can have a devastating impact on someone’s self-confidence. It is worth acknowledging that it’s something to work on, but that feeling of worthlessness can be overcome.
  • Stress: New routines can bring on new stress, such as adjusting to single parenthood or managing finances independently. It can spill into other areas of your life that have always been stress-free, such as work or hanging out with friends.
  • Loneliness: Even in situations where your ex-spouse was problematic, it can be a shock to finally find yourself alone. This is especially true when you do not have any children together to share custody with. The feeling of isolation can cast a deep sorrow on your mental health. When you’re ready, it’s important to stay connected with your family and friends while also working to build a new social circle.

While this list can appear daunting, there is hope. After dealing with an array of emotions, many people rediscover themselves after divorce. Some even pursue new passions and relationships that might not have been possible before. Keeping this in mind can ease some of the toll on your mental health.


Q: What Are the 5 Stages of Divorce?

A: The five stages of divorce have been applied from the widely accepted five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

After struggling to accept the fact that a divorce is happening to you, feelings of anger and resentment can surface and be directed toward your ex-spouse. Once the intense feelings subside, one may find themselves trying to negotiate with the other to revive the marriage and reverse the decision. After a failed bargaining stage, depression can set in while you mourn the relationship you once had. Fortunately, there is peace that comes with the final stage of acceptance. Over time, people typically accept the situation and have less intense emotions about the situation than when it was fresh.

Q: What Is the Ideal Way to Handle Mental Health During Divorce?

A: Part of feeling emotions is healing, and trying to restrict yourself from taking the emotional journey can prolong your suffering. The first step to support your mental health is to acknowledge your feelings and allow you to experience them without self-judgment. However, this is only the first step toward protecting your mental health. Many people find professional counseling or therapy to be very beneficial, as it can help them navigate their feelings or gain new coping strategies. If you have any friends or family around, keep them close in your life and use them to vent as appropriate. Finally, practice self-care. Give yourself time for activities that make you feel good. This can rejuvenate your spirit and mind while giving you something to look forward to doing again soon.

Q: What Are the Worst Parts of Divorce?

A: Everyone’s divorce is a different experience, and each person would cite the “worst part” differently based on what they care about most. For many, the hardest part is more than just the legal or logistical challenges. Navigating the deep sense of loss, and thinking about the shared dreams and future that they had placed so much hope in, can be crippling. Some rather find themselves in difficult financial situations, trying to understand how they will make ends meet without the same resources that they had in the marriage.

Q: Is It Normal to Feel Relief After Divorce?

A: Both feeling relief and not feeling it are two completely normal reactions to have after a divorce. For some, a divorce was the final step to leaving an unhealthy relationship. The newfound freedom can feel euphoric, especially when it’s something that you have envisioned for a while, but you felt like the day would never come, with the amount of legal challenges to address. Those who perhaps dealt with an affair or wanted to keep working on the marriage will not share in these feelings, and they are more likely to follow the five stages of divorce.

Contact the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon Today

If you are facing the prospect of a divorce and need help navigating what is to come, contact the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon today. We have been creating successful divorce resolutions for years, and we would be happy to help you through yours.