It is common for people to feel a complicated mix of emotions during a divorce, from anger to doubt, and grief to confusion. Another one of the most common emotions involved in a divorce is anxiety. Any life change can cause feelings of stress and anxiety to increase at an alarming rate, and getting a divorce is certainly a significant life change.
Anxiety might be normal in a divorce, but many health experts—including the United States Surgeon General’s office—state that many divorcing spouses experience a substantial number of symptoms related to anxiety disorders. Even though we are nearing the end of the month, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And that provides the opportunity to discuss how important it is for spouses to take care of themselves during a divorce.
What is divorce anxiety?
It makes sense that anxiety would go hand-in-hand with divorce. Suddenly, the future is more uncertain than ever. The process of divorce itself can be overwhelming, and people have to adjust to a whole new life. It is not only understandable but normal to feel some anxiety about the future.
However, many people report feeling unusually high levels of stress that result in symptoms similar to anxiety disorders, such as:
- Feelings of detachment from everyday life and activities
- Consistent feelings of nausea or dizziness
- Worrying excessively about the family’s future
- Feeling extreme distress before interacting with a spouse
- Physical symptoms including chest pain or shaking
Even though the events and emotions involved in the divorce might be the root cause of the anxiety, these symptoms can often roll over and interrupt someone’s daily life.
Tips for managing anxiety in divorce
Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but there are ways for individuals to manage their emotions during the divorce, as well as after the divorce is finalized. Mental Health America provides tips for how individuals can cope with stressful feelings, like anxiety, during their divorce, including:
- Maintaining one’s physical health, which can directly affect mental health
- Opening up and discussing feelings of anxiety with loved ones
- Allowing themselves to feel all of the complex emotions that come with divorce
- Focusing on the present instead of the future
Managing the anxiety involved in a divorce can help individuals take care of themselves. However, it can also help them approach complex divorce proceedings with a different mindset and avoid disputes when they are not on edge.