Divorce and depression often go hand in hand. Why? Because divorce can be traumatic. Even when it is amicable, it still is a radical shift from what you thought would be your forever life. What happens when you are sad from your divorce but that sadness turns into something darker and doesn’t seem to go away? Can divorce lead to depression?
It seems that even the rich and famous aren’t immune from divorce and depression. Miranda Kerr, an Australian supermodel, describes herself as a “naturally positive person.” It surprised her that when she divorced from her husband of three years, Orlando Bloom, she was left in a dark place and battling depression. She says, “When Orlando and I separated, I actually fell into a really bad depression. I never understood the depth of that feeling or the reality of that because I was naturally a very happy person.”
Coldplay star Chris Martin has also recently made public that his split from Gwyneth Paltrow had caused him a ‘year of depression’. And this was the divorce that was done so very gently. He says, “I still wake up down a lot of days. But now I feel like I’ve been given the tools to turn it around.” His Coldplay collaborator Phil Harvey said, “We were all worried about him – the band, his family. When someone’s really, really low and on their own a lot, as a friend, your mind goes to the worst-case scenario. That period didn’t last for ever, but there was a time when we were all regularly checking in on him, just trying to make sure he wasn’t on his own.” Martin says that he now has become better at dealing with hard times.
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Divorce and Depression: When is it More than Sadness?
So how do you know when you’re more than sad, that what you’ve entered is more than grief?
Grieving after a separation and divorce is normal. The feelings associated with grief are a natural human reaction to loss. In this case it’s the loss of a relationship, what you thought your future would be, how your family now looks and the familiarity of what once was. We know that love hurts and hearts break. The emotions we go through afterwards should not be capped, but it’s how we deal with them that often determines our ability to move forward. There are healthy ways to deal with our anger, sadness and disappointment and there are unhealthy ways. But even when we deal with our sadness in healthy ways depression can still take a hold.
The ‘black dog’ as depression is sometimes referred to, is a complex disease. It can have several major contributors including stress, health and hormones. There are some physical illnesses that can bring about depression-like symptoms, so seeing your general practitioner regularly is a really good move. They can help you to monitor changes in what’s ‘normal’ or not for you and can help you to investigate whether there are underlying physical reasons as to why you might be down more than you are normally.
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Depression, as made distinct from being sad or grieving, can become an illness when there are symptoms that stay with us for more than a couple of weeks. Some of these include being sad or miserable for most of the time and losing interest or pleasure in things you would normally. This often then interferes with your ability to work and function in your usual way. It can affect our relationships with other people.
Signs of Depression
The Black Dog Institute has a list of the possible signs of depression which include:
- Lowered self-esteem (or self-worth)
- Change in sleep patterns, that is, insomnia or broken sleep
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Less ability to control emotions such as pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
- Varying emotions throughout the day, for example, feeling worse in the morning and better as the day progresses
- Reduced capacity to experience pleasure: you can’t enjoy what’s happening now, nor look forward to anything with pleasure. Hobbies and interests drop off
- Reduced pain tolerance: you are less able to tolerate aches and pains and may have a host of new ailments
- Changed sex drive: absent or reduced
- Poor concentration and memory: some people are so impaired that they think that they are becoming demented
- Reduced motivation: it doesn’t seem worth the effort to do anything, things seem meaningless
- Lowered energy levels.
If you’re feeling more than a few of these then you may be suffering with depression. Seeking professional help is the best thing you can do to get the kind of care you need at a time when it is more than okay to feeling broken. Checking-in with your doctor or therapist even if you’re not sure whether you’re depressed is a good idea.
Remember that it is quite normal for divorce and depression to co-exist.
At Divorce Lawyers Brisbane we understand that divorce can be really hard. We are able to help our clients through this difficult time by handling this process with compassion and efficiency. If you would like to speak to one of our family lawyers then please contact us today. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation.