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Overcoming Depression after a Divorce

Adding It Up

Physicians describe mental health as being able to maintain mental balance during times of emotional stress. If you lose that balance, you may need to get some help to restore it.

Don't Go There

If you suspect you're suffering from depression, call your doctor and make an appointment. Millions of people are being treated for depression, most with good success. Don't ignore symptoms of depression, which include persistent fear, feelings of worthlessness, sadness and crying, trouble sleeping, constant tiredness, trouble concentrating, eating disorders, and loss of interest in sex.

If your wife comes home from work one night and tells you she's met somebody else, she no longer loves you, she wants a divorce as soon as possible, and there's a moving truck waiting outside to take half of your furniture to her new apartment, you're bound to be more than a little shaken by the experience.

You'll no doubt experience a dizzying range of emotions. You may well spend some time in a state of shock, unable to comprehend what's happening. You'll be angrier than you've ever been in your life. You'll feel incredibly hurt and betrayed. You may wonder what you did to trigger the situation and go through a period when you blame yourself for her leaving. You may one day beg her to come back, and tell her you never want to see her again the next. You'll mourn the end of your marriage, and wonder about your future.

If you're mentally and emotionally healthy, you'll eventually begin to heal. You'll accept what has happened and get on with your life. In time, you'll become open to new relationships, perhaps even seeking them out. You'll learn to deal with your ex-wife in a civil manner, and eventually you'll remember the good times you and she had together.

If you find you're unable or unwilling to accept what's happened and move on with your life, you probably should look for help. Some people resist seeking help because they perceive it as a sign of weakness. Experts, however, say most people encounter within their lifetimes a period when they could benefit from the help of a counselor or therapist.

Help is available in many forms. Some people think that contacting a counselor or therapist will result in a prolonged period of intensive therapy. They have visions of lying on a couch recounting their life stories while the therapist scribbles notes and mumbles to himself.

In reality, counseling or psychotherapy is not like that, at all. A counselor or psychologist may feel it's necessary to see you only one or two times. You don't have to lie on a couch, and a counselor of psychologist does not judge your character.

If you're still uncomfortable with counseling or therapy, consider attending a support group. Many churches and synagogues offer these groups for people dealing with changes such as the loss of a spouse, parent, or child; separation or divorce; and illness. You can find support groups in your area listed online.

You can also search for mental health services available in your area. Many communities offer counseling services and other mental health resources. Some of these services may be available at little or no cost, depending on your ability to pay.

Keep the following considerations in mind if you're wrestling with the idea of looking for some help:

  • Nearly everyone experiences a period in life where they could benefit from professional help.

  • There is no shame in seeking help for an emotional problem.

  • Finding help can allow you to move past your problems and get on with your life.

  • Taking the initiative to find help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is a step in taking control of your life.

  • Living with depression, or in a prolonged depressed state, isn't necessary. Most doctors and therapists recommend a combination of medication and counseling to treat depression, and it's usually done successfully.

Change happens, and when it does, it's up to each of us to deal with it the best we can. Preparing for change is as simple as acknowledging that it will occur and having a support system in place for when it does.

Remember that not all change is bad, but even good changes can cause stress. And if you find you're having problems coping with change, keep in mind that there is help available.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 40s and 50s © 2002 by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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