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Dr. Lowenstein

How Divorce Could Impact Your Mental Health

When it comes to your health, do you think beyond the physical aspects to include your emotional, psychological, and social well-being? Mental health is more difficult to measure, but it’s equally important. And as we’re reminded every May during Mental Health Month, it’s something everyone should care about.

Many factors can contribute to mental health problems, including genetics and physical health conditions. But life experiences, such as divorce, can also take a significant toll on your well-being. Here’s what that might look like: 

  • Increased stress and anxiety. Everything about a divorce is stressful—from the early signs of marital problems to the divorce process itself. Divorce frequently stems from serious issues such as infidelity, abuse, and financial trouble. And while it’s hard enough to deal with the emotional turmoil associated with marital challenges, making the life-changing decision to split only adds to the anxiety.   
  • Depression. You may feel sad, guilty, hopeless, or overwhelmed after your divorce. That’s all very common and absolutely normal, whether you initiated the separation or not. If these feelings persist, however, they can lead to depression. Research suggests that people who experience a significant life event such as divorce are more likely to develop depression. And for those already living with depression, symptoms could get worse. In the end, the personal, social, and financial costs can overshadow even the most legitimate reasons for choosing to end a marriage.
  • Substance abuse. Some people use alcohol and drugs to cope with depression. Although they may find temporary relief, substance abuse can intensify feelings of sadness or loneliness, lead to addiction, and put others in danger. People in the midst of a divorce may be at a heightened risk for alcoholism, and divorce may increase the risk of relapse for individuals who previously battled alcoholism.

How to keep mental health in check during and after a divorce

While you can’t completely avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with divorce, there are things you can do to manage the tension and minimize the impact on your mental health.

  • Prioritize self-care by eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
  • Maintain healthy relationships with others and reach out to family and friends for support.
  • Learn and practice relaxation and mindfulness skills and other coping strategies.  

It’s important to recognize the telltale signs of more serious mental health problems, such as severe mood swings, low energy, an inability to get through normal daily tasks, or other concerning and persistent behaviors. If you notice any of these issues, it may be time to talk with your physician or mental health professional. Early and consistent treatment can help you overcome mental health challenges and make positive progress toward the next chapter of your life.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay 

Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.