I am a lawyer, not a therapist. But I have assisted people through many divorces, and I can tell you that depression plays a huge role in divorce.
It does so in three ways.
1. Before the divorce
Depression is often at the root of divorce. People marry, and they are happy and energetic. But depression can settle in at any time, even when things are good. And once it declares itself, it changes the relationship.
Depression can be triggered by adverse events – money problems, job problems, the loss of a loved one. This is called existential depression – brought on by the challenges of existence. It may lift over time as circumstances change.
But just as often depression takes over for no identifiable reason. When it does, it changes the individual’s personality. We see many clients who say that their spouse is no longer the person they married and were attracted to. Depression literally is the reason for the divorce.
2. During the divorce
It is a sad time. People feel emotions they have never felt before – feelings of failure, of guilt, of anxiety about the future. It is the reason law offices have Kleenex.
This overwhelming emotional experience is one reason people seek out lawyers. It is just too much for them to manage in the state they are in. A third party that focuses on the law and not on how miserable things are is your best bet to get necessary, strong representation through a tough period in your life.
3. After the divorce
It surprises many people when the papers are finally signed, and they are still in the grip of profound sadness. A lot of this has to do with expectations. We look forward to feeling free, to starting over, but we are still imprisoned by the past. We feel grief over the relationship that has ended. We are dismayed that we have to start over, and the world seems scary.
What solution can offer to lift your depression away? None. We are counselors, but not that kind of counselor.
We can advise you, however, not to expect to feel blissful at the end of this painful process. Expect ups and downs, because they will be there, and they will be confusing. And keep yourself open to the idea of happiness – not all the time, but every now and then, a ray shining through. You will be proud of yourself for getting through this, for being brave and taking another crack at life.