Depressed after my wife left me: What should I do?
In this blog we will discuss what one can do to cope with depression after separation or divorce.
We will also briefly discuss what depression after separation is and how it manifests in an individual’s life after separation.
Depressed after my wife left me: What should I do?
Life after a separation or divorce is challenging irrespective of who has left and who has been left behind.
It is a major life event that can cause mental anguish and lead to what is known as “adjustment disorder or situational depression”- referring to depression that arises after a change in life circumstances such as a loss of a relationship or loss of a person.
There are a few things that one can do to help themselves during this period of change and help them cope with the loss of a partner, children, and the loss of a relationship.
Some of them include:
- Seeking out professional help
- Allowing oneself to grieve
- Spending time with friends and family
- Avoiding a rebound relationship
- Focusing on self care
- Attending to one’s emotional needs
- Joining a support group
- Seeking out positive relationships.
Seek out professional help
If you have been depressed for more than two weeks and it is impacting your other relationships and your professional life, we advise you to seek out professional help immediately.
Talking to a therapist and engaging with them to understand what is happening to you does not mean that you have failed in life. It simply means that you need help like everyone else and that does not make you any less of a person.
Your therapist will help you understand what is happening to you, might prescribe you medication if needed, and can help you tap into your own strengths that can help you adapt to challenges, changes, and overcome them.
If the cost of therapy is becoming a burden consider talking to your therapist for a sliding scale option or the possibility of a pro bono case, and if that is not possible ask your therapist to refer you to someone who can take on your case at a much lower rate or for free.
Understanding your condition, diagnosis and Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will help you during this difficult time.
The best thing you can allow yourself to do after a separation is to give yourself time to grieve. This will involve you taking effort to acknowledge your emotions and your feelings no matter how painful or vulnerable you might be feeling.
You will also need to accept the loss of the relationship and the pain you’re feeling instead of pretending that you are unaffected.
Take time out of your day to grieve, let yourself cry, get angry, and experience all the uncomfortable feelings that you are feeling without judgement- write about it if you want to, use art to express how you feel.
Allow yourself to lie in bed all day to cry if that is what you need. Letting yourself grieve is a way to care for your own needs.
Spend time with friends
Once you feel like you are up for it, take time to seek out support from your friends, family, and loved ones.
Talk to them about how you are feeling, allow them to get distracted while doing fun things together. Let them provide you company when you do not want to be alone- take effort to reach out to them.
Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships.
Avoid a rebound relationship
Life as a divorced person or once you are separated, it is easy to feel a sense of loneliness and this can drive you to dive into another relationship or multiple relationships.
While it is tempting to do so, to deal with the sense of isolation and loneliness that you might be feeling, it is advised that you do not use a rebound relationship to avoid loneliness- it is not fair to you or the person that you are seeing.
Focus on self-care
Instead of distracting yourself with someone else or something else- like gaming, drinking, gambling etc- you could choose to care for yourself.
While it might be hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things.
It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward.
Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first.
You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself.
Join a support group
Another thing you can do for yourself is to join a support group of people struggling with depression or divorce so that you can experience emotional support first hand within these communities and over time learn how to manage your challenges by learning from each other.
It is possible that people with depression can also struggle with a sense of worthlessness, a feeling that you have nothing of value to offer.
By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey.
Seek out positive relationships
When spouses separate or get a divorce, there is bound to be a loss in other relationships as well. Some friends might distance themselves from you while others might become judgemental and toxic.
Like seeking out support in groups, seek out positive relationships in your life that do not judge and rather support you as you get better.
These can be friends, family and even past coworkers who offer support and a shoulder to learn on when you need it.
Make new friends if you must and choose people who are able to help you see positive meaning and who bring positivity into your life. These positive relationships can enable you to heal as well as help you as you move forward in life.
Why do I feel depressed after my wife left me?
The depression that occurs after separation and divorce is what is known as adjustment disorder or situational depression and it is different from clinical depression.
While clinical depression occurs due to neurological and biological factors, adjustment disorder or situational depression occur due to changes in circumstances that are traumatic for the individual.
Divorce and separation can be very traumatic for an individual and it can take anywhere from a few weeks to many years to recover from.
During this time, a person might experience depression that manifest in the form of:
- ignoring responsibilities
- avoiding family and friends
- performing poorly at work due to a lack of focus
- Fighting and anger
- Substance use.
Apart from these emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.
For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Let us look at the various symptoms that must meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression.
The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
These symptoms should indicate change from normal functioning.
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
In this blog we have discussed what one can do to cope with depression after separation or divorce.
We also briefly discussed what depression after separation is and how it manifests in an individual’s life after separation.
FAQ related to Depressed after my wife left me: What should I do?
Do men get depressed after divorce?
Yes, men do get depressed after divorce mostly because they do not known how to cope in health ways. Research finds that men are nearly twice as likely to develop major depression after divorce than women with a higher suicde rate.
Why do I feel so lost after divorce?
It is very natural to feel lost and hopeless after a divorce because this is a major event in your life that brings in a whole new change in your life circumstances. One reason you feel lost is because of the complete diversion from what you thought would happen to what is happening.
Can depression make you want a divorce?
In the case of either parties, the depressed and the spouse of the person who is depressed, can feel like they want to divorce or separate from their partners.
For the individual depressed it is more of a symptom of their depression where they feel guilt and they also tend to experience apathy caused by their depression so they might not feel love for their partner.
One the other hand, for the partner of a person with depression to become more of a caretaker than a spouse which could let them experience empathy fatigue and lead them to consider diviorce.
How long does it take to get over your wife leaving you?
According to Sas for women, studies suggest that it takes a person, on average, eighteen months to move on after divorce for most people.
Ginta.D. Managing Depression After Divorce. Healthline. Retrieved on 28th March 2022. healthline.com/health/depression/depression-and-divorce
How to Deal with Loneliness after Divorce or a Break-Up. Cigna. Retrieved on 28th march 2022. https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/loneliness-after-divorce-or-break-up