Even under the best circumstances, divorce can be quite stressful. Often men and women are faced with practical concerns such as selling a house, moving, re-entry into the workforce, finding an attorney, and financial problems.
Even more difficult are issues concerning children, legal proceedings, betrayal, and the loss of what you perceived as the future. Although in general, divorced women fare better than men in regards to depression, the divorce process can leave the most resilient of people vulnerable to depressive symptoms or even a clinically significant episode.
It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and by all means seek help if needed. Psychotherapy alone may suffice with milder depressive symptoms; however, when symptoms are moderate to severe, antidepressants are often warranted. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that most people with depression do best with a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy.
Mindfulness meditation is an effective approach to managing and decreasing the pervasive negative thoughts and feelings associated with depression.
According to the American Psychological Association, “the simplest definition of mindfulness is paying attention to one’s experience in the present moment. It involves observing thoughts and emotions from moment to moment without judging or becoming caught up in them.”
Mindfulness meditation allows you to acknowledge when negative thoughts occur, and to see these thoughts for what they are- a byproduct of a toxic thought process. In short, it is purposefully paying attention to the present moment – whatever is happening now – not yesterday, or maybe tomorrow – just right here, right now.
Over time, as you place less significance on negative thoughts, the vehement addiction to negativity may be relieved.
Below are the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode taken from the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders-4th Edition (DSM-IV TR) *.
If you or your children experience five or more of the following symptoms for at least two consecutive weeks and they are causing significant distress and impairment in daily function, consider contacting a professional:
- Depressed mood (e.g., feels sad or empty) most of the day. In children and adolescents, the mood may be irritable rather than sad.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities.
- Decrease or increase in appetite with a significant weight loss or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.) In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual.
- Others noticing that your movements and thoughts are agitated or slowed.
- Feeling fatigued or experiencing a loss of energy.
- Feeling worthless or excessively and/or inappropriately guilty.
- Difficulties with thinking, concentration, or making decisions.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent thoughts of suicide (with or without a specific plan), or a suicide attempt.
To learn more about depression and its treatment visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
About the Author of How Blue is Too Blue? Depression and Divorce: Dr. Tonita Wroolie is a licensed clinical psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Stanford School of Medicine.
*American Psychiatric Association 2000. (DSM-IV-TR) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edition, text revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.
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