Divorce & PTSD

Aug 8, 2012 by

Getting divorced can be one of the toughest life-changing events anyone can experience. Everyone knows it can be emotionally and financially problematic, but fewer recognize that divorce can make existing health problems flare up, and it can also cause new health problems too. The toll it takes on your health can be immediate, and starts as soon as the divorce begins. However, one of the single most serious health problems that can afflict people getting a divorce is depression.

No one is going to feel exactly great during the course of a divorce, but feeling tired all day, feeling hopeless, no longer enjoying anything in life, and even thoughts of suicide, all indicate serious depression issues. The stress of a divorce sometimes manifests itself in anger, anxiety or substance abuse. All three are issues that can both impact health and exacerbate depression if left unchecked. Staying active with others can help stave off depression, and a little help from a marriage counselor, a member of the church or even your divorce attorney can reduce the stress and some of the negative health impacts.

However, in cases of serious depression the situation is more complicated. Something few people realize is that depression is common in men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most people usually associate combat situations, violent crimes and other traumatic life events with PTSD, however a life-changing divorce can also be a serious enough disruption of a person’s normal life that it actually causes full-blown PTSD. And right behind PTSD is depression; in fact, the trauma that caused the PTSD usually causes depression as well. Studies have shown that depression occurs more often than any other medical problem in women who have PTSD, and it can also occur in men too.

Divorce is never easy and the stress is often unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to get to the point of PTSD and depression. People who recognize they might have either of these mental health issues probably have both and will need to treat both of them. It helps to learn to spot the signs of depression, and treat the underlying issues before they create bigger problems. If you think you have depression, you should see a psychologist or other mental health professional as soon as possible.

Data from the National Institute of Mental Health shows the symptoms of depression may include any of the following:

“¢    Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions.
“¢    Fatigue and decreased energy.
“¢    Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness.
“¢    Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism.
“¢    Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping.
“¢    Irritability, restlessness.
“¢    Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex.
“¢    Overeating or appetite loss.
“¢    Persistent aches and pains that do not ease with treatment.
“¢    Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings.
“¢    Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts.

Because both PTSD and depression can lead to suicide in extreme cases, you should take any warning signs seriously, and if you or someone you care about shows signs of a suicidal depression related to PTSD, you should seek professional care immediately.


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