The decision to end a marriage can be an emotionally wrenching experience, but the process of divorce itself can often seem dry and technical — a matter of financial disclosures, legal requirements and slow negotiations.
Divorce may take longer than you expected, and during the months that you are going through the process, you will surely feel unsettled: Your divorce isn’t final, but you have already stopped feeling like you’re married. Your living situation may be temporary, and your financial future may seem up in the air.
The situation may not be as dramatic as the early stages of your breakup, but it can be just as hard, if not harder. And that can take a toll on your mental health.
Mental health and divorce
Studies have shown profound links between mental health and divorce.
For one thing, mental health is often a factor that leads to report. A multinational study in 2011 looked at 18 recognized mental disorders and found that all of them were associated with an increased likelihood of divorce. The disorders most commonly associated with divorce were phobias, major depression disorder and alcohol abuse.
For some people who are suffering from these disorders, a divorce can make the problem worse. For others, the divorce itself may be what sets off their mental health crisis.
Other major studies have found an association between divorce and poor health. This includes mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
Working for your mental health
If you’re dealing with mental health issues, it’s important to seek out professional help. You don’t have to face them by yourself.
That said, there are things you can do to take care of yourself. These can include things as simple as maintaining a regular schedule, eating well, exercising and checking in with friends. It can also involve maintaining a healthy emotional distance from your divorce. If you have children, do not complain to them about your ex — that’s important to their mental health as well as yours.
It can also help to speak about your mental health needs with your lawyer. A good lawyer can take care of details for you so that you can protect your health.