Depression in Men After Divorce

depressioninmenDepression 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.

ck dog of depression

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.

6 thoughts on “Depression in Men After Divorce”

  1. Anger is one of the most common, but also most destructive emotions men feel after divorce.
    However it is part of the process – you are going to feel angry, its going to happen for a while in fact. IT is an essential prt of the process as you have to feel and vent that emotion before you can move on to better things.
    The most important thing I can say is that while you cannot control feeling angry, you can control what you say and do. If you do not, you can cause a lot of trouble for yourself and others as you probably realise. Always stay in control and take your anger out somewhere else, and remember you cannot be angry for ever – but you cannot deny it and you will pass through it.

  2. I’m living in denial, thinking that it may not be over, but every time that I see my wife (when picking up my son), she makes that very clear and the sadness is terrible and last for days.

  3. Sorry to hear that Martin – the toughest thing about divorce with kids is that you always have to keep contact with the ex. It allows little room to greive, and also gives you false hope in that denial stage. One day she might be in a good mood, or she might be trying to butter you up for something and you might see it as a way back in – but this would be false and hurtful as well.

    Take care, this stage will not last forever. There will be long days ahead and many challenges to go through but always know that here is light at the end of the tunnel

  4. About 1 1/2 years ago I finally found the man who captured my heart 27 years ago. He was a pilot and I was a flight attendant. Both of us were divorced. He had been married for seven years and already divorced for seven years and I was married six years and divorced for 3 years.

    There was an attraction between the two of us and we spent a layover in Los Angeles and toured the USC campus together. He shared with me that his former wife had cheated on him and I told him my former husband did the same. They had no children and I had a nine year old son. Following that layover he placed a note in my work mailbox and told me he was interested in getting to know me outside of the airline and to give him a call or drop him a note. Shortly afterwards I had to take a leave from the airline because my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. The airline was also going through its share of troubles. When I went to call him his number and had been disconnected and there was no forwarding information. I was so upset. Back then we did not have computers or cell phones. I tried every possible way to find him to at least let him know that I was interested in him too.

    Well 25 years later I found him and learned that he was living about 4 hours from me. I found an obituary online of his stepmom. I was hesitant to reach out to him for fear he may be married so I contacted his stepmom’s nephews wife. I saw she was on facebook and I can tell by her response that we was single. I shared some of the history and she was excited to give him my e-mail address. When she told him where I was from and gave him my name he remembered me as the flight attendant who caught his eye. We started corresponding through e-mail and he told me that he was so happy I kept that note. He went on to say that he recently retired and was looking foward to the next chapter of his life and that he had some really good feelings about us getting together again. He even mentioned putting me on his “airline buddy list,” so that I can get passes to fly.

    After weeks of catching up via e-mail we learned that neither of us ever remarried. I shared with him what I had been doing. He said if you are ever in the area let’s get together I would love to see you. I sent him some photos of me and he commented that I had not aged a bit. He sent photos too and he looked great too. I knew I should have listened to my gut feeling because when we finally spoke to each other on the telephone he kept talking about his pretty wife “Mary.” He told me it had been years since he dated and he was a little nervous and he wasn’t sure how we would hit it off. When we finally met for lunch, once again during our conversation he brought up his beautiful wife. Overall we had great conversation. We continued to be in touch via e-mail, but most of it was jokes that he got from other and was just passing them on to me.

    I saw him again a few months later when I was in his area for business. We had dinner and I came out and asked him if he was still married and if he was still in love with his wife. This time he appeared more agitated but his response was no, she left me for another man and they are happily married and they have children. It appeared that our relationship was 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. Everytime he gave me hope and gave me the impression he was interested he would pull back.

    Six months later I was back in his area for business and this time he started to share alot about his childhood and time spent in VietNam. We went for a drive and he showed me where he gets his haircut and where he takes his cats to the vet. This time the only thing he said is that he really wanted to be married. This time he never mentioned her name. During our visit he commented that the next time I come back he would take me around the lake. I wrote him a letter and thanked him for a good time and that I really enjoyed my time with him and that I felt myself those feelings I had coming to life again. He said that he was suprised that someone like me would have feelings for someone like him.

    I saw him recently and he came out and told me that he still is not interested in relations with anyone. He brought her up again during our conversation and wanted to know if I ever flew with his pretty wife Mary. My response to him was that she cheated on you. He answered by saying she was an attractive woman and men hit on her all the time. I said well that didn’t give her the right to cheat. Well at this point I told him to remove me from his joke list and there was no need for us to correspond. anymore. My heart is shattered.

    Am I right to say he never has let go?

  5. Thank you for that story Gayle,

    What you describe does sound like a man who has not learned to move on. He may have overcome many of the problems that divorce has thrown at him but certainly there seems to be a place in his heart that his ex-wife still holds hostage and allowed to do so by his own actions and words.

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