Depression is very common in men after divorce. However, there is a major stage of grief that is usually referred to as ‘Depression’ – but what we are talking about here is not passing sadness, but what is referred to as clinical depression. Something that has been with us a long time but has only more recently been recognised as a major problem. It was even referred to in great leaders such as Winston Churchill as his “Black Dog” that has become a symbol of depression and other mood disorder.
Clinical depression is not something everyone who goes through divorce might feel. It is often something they may struggle with all of their life in fact, but a life changing event might make this already fragile state massively worse. What is even scarier is that suicide among clinically depressed individuals is substantially higher as well. In fact, 60% of all suicides have a depressive disorder or other mental disorder involved.
So, it is important to discover the difference between the more generic ideas of depression compared to its much more serious brother clinical depression. This will help you to assess your own mental health, or the mental health of someone you love who is going through a divorce.
Defining Clinical Depression in Men after Divorce
The symptoms of clinical depression are different to those of normal sadness from loss. It is obviously more pronounced, but doctors will have specific things they look for that will clue them in on the severity of the depression such as:
- Feelings of extreme sadness or unhappiness
- Frustration and irritability over the tiniest of matters
- Complete loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities
- Greatly reduced sex drive
- Insomnia, or the opposite with excessive sleep
- Marked change in appetite. This might be cravings, lack of appetite, or eating for comfort. So weight gain or loss is often accompanied.
- Restless agitation. Pacing, wringing of the hands, or involuntary movements when you are worked up.
- Angry outbursts over small matters
- A slower pace of thinking, speaking or movement
- Indecisiveness, inability to concentrate
- Marked loss of energy and fatigue. Everything seems to take a huge amount of effort to do.
- Feeling worthless or guilty. Being fixated on past failures.
- Thoughts of dying, death or suicide that occur frequently
- Bursting into tears without any apparent reason
- Odd physical problems such as aches and pains as well as headaches
- Inability to get out of bed or interact with anyone at some extreme levels
Now, you might think many of these describe any man trying to recover from divorce, but most do not have that many of these symptoms, or to the severity needed. However, many guys border on clinical depression at some stages during their divorce and should be well aware of the risks and causes.
Causes of Depression After Divorce For Men
This might seem obvious – maybe the horrible heart rending divorce and feelings of abandonment and loss? Well yes – but that is actually a trigger for depression as some people are simply more susceptible to depression than others. Some men go through much worse post-divorce blues than others, but do not get hit by depression at all.
This is not a deficiency in you if you are suffering from a depressive disorder; it is simply the way your hormones and brain chemicals work which differs from man to man. Brain chemicals such as serotonin that keep our moods balanced can be out of whack, or blocked for a wide variety of reasons. This coupled with a major life changing experience and lack of positive stimulus is what often leads to clinical depression. This can interfere with your life greatly and can send some men right to the edge of suicide – or very sadly – beyond.
What You Can Do About Clinical Depression
If you are feeling very poorly, very sad, and you feel you are exhibiting many symptoms listed above then you might be suffering from clinical depression. However, only a doctor can actually determine this and give you a definitive answer. This is nothing to be ashamed of though, if I have one piece of advice SEE A DOCTOR and ask about it as there are many ways to help with the depression. It does not make you less of a man it does not mean you have failed. True strength is being able to reach out when you are low – and you build on that by reaching out to others when you have recovered so we all help each other.
While only you can get over the trigger factor that caused the depression, doctors can organise counselling if you need it, and they can also prescribe drugs that can help balance the brain chemicals that have led to a lack of serotonin. However, most need to be prescribed and carefully monitored. This is not a cure for depression but it can help you even out your moods while you work through the pain of divorce.
The other things you can do by yourself is approach this the natural way to increase your good mood hormones and brain chemicals. This is mainly about diet and exercise.
- Exercise has an amazing effect on your moods. After enough intensity it releases feel good hormones called endorphins which flood your brain and body alleviating stress and depression for a while. Continued exercise will have a more permanent effect. This is hard to do consistently when depressed but if you can manage it makes a massive impact on your mental health.
- Diet is also extremely important to aiding in returning your brain to a better state. There are various foods that you should eat more of, and other that inhibit better moods that you should avoid. Hydration is also extremely important and is easy to do. More on anti-depression diets here
To help with the long term recovery from divorce for men though – click through to see my eBook on this very subject.