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Mental Health Issues and Divorce

In many divorce cases, mental health issues are raised.   Their impact ranges from very mild to very severe. In this series, we will first begin by focusing on general issues that arise within a person’s life when the nuclear, scorched earth option of divorce is initiated.

When a person files a divorce action, usually it significantly changes both of their lives. The relationship dynamics completely change from unity to separate.  Common friends are likely not available to one or both of the people[1] and there is likely some form of depression.  Additionally, there may be a loss of identity and a number of other occurrences that can affect mental, emotional, and physical health. In my opinion, everyone who goes through a divorce should invest in taking the time, whether individually or with professional guidance, to heal and reflect so that they may move forward in a healthy way. There are numerous articles that discuss this process to help avoid the cycle of repeating prior bad choices.

I was recently reading Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare, by Shahida Arabi[2]. There are suggestions that were specifically recommended for individuals escaping a relationship with a narcissist which I believe are equally applicable to anyone ending a marriage when they begin to recreate their life. The book referred to these steps as “APP” (Activities, People, and Purpose)

  • Activities: Do some physical activity such as yoga, dancing, running, Pilates or hiking. Additionally, the book recommended creating a list of five things you previously liked to do and five things you would like to try. Then every week do one of the activities.
  • People: Meet new people and make new friends.  The book does not recommend seriously dating anyone at this point in your life, however that is clearly a personal choice. Essentially the book recommends you start attending network meetings, school or work events, or join a website group that meets regularly. Overall, create and reconnect with new and old friends who can and will enhance your life.
  • Purpose: Reconnect with your higher purpose. This book recommends you reflect on your prior dreams and aspirations to discover something you previously desired, but might have lost track of during the relationship. For example, if you wanted to be a writer, start by allocating time each day to this dream whether that is starting to write a book or taking a class to help you become a writer, start by allocating time each day to this dream whether that is starting to write a book or taking a class to help you become a writer. The point is, find something that you want to pursue and then make it a priority.

People are very resilient and will survive this devastating event in their lives. They need to heal and through that healing process, they will be better able to handle the trauma inflicted during their divorce process.

This article is the first in a series of articles that will address different mental health issues and how they may not only impact the person who is getting divorced but also the divorce process.

[1] There is some research that shows a correlation between when a member of a social group files for divorce that the other members of that same group are more likely to also file for divorce within a year of the first couple filing.

[2]I will talk about this book more in Part 3 when I talk specifically about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the impact it has on a couple during and post marriage.


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