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Coping With Depression after Divorce for Men

Updated on December 18, 2012

Grief Is Natural After a Divorce

Give yourself time to heal following your divorce.
Give yourself time to heal following your divorce. | Source

After the Divorce for Men

The U.S. Census Bureau reveals a divorce rate of 9.2 among each 1,000 men in the United States annually. This statistic translates into vast number of men of all age groups who have become newly single in any given year. There are even more guys who have been in a long-term relationship that has recently dissolved, adding to the numbers of men who find themselves on their own after a period of time.

What do many of these men have in common? They are going through a mourning or grieving process, learning how to cope again with life on their own. You may find yourself thinking, "Not me," to this process, but even when the relationship that has dissolved had much negative energy, there is still an emotional and mental process you go through as you face this major change in your life.

You may feel relieved that the arguments and daily angst is behind you. You may feel elated she will no longer have access to your credit cards or automobile. You may have already begun a new relationship with someone else. There is still no getting around the fact that you still have adjustments in your thinking and feelings since the divorce or break-up.

The Life Counseling Center provides insight into what happens after the divorce for men: Rates of psychiatric illnesses overall are highest in divorced persons versus any other marital status; divorced men have high rates of newly diagnosed depression and alcohol abuse and alcoholism is 4.5 times higher in divorced men than married men.

Men, as a whole, are more reluctant to admit they are experiencing depression or any other mental health issue, than women. Perhaps you are one of those men, or you know someone who is. Read on to learn what can be done for men to cope with depression after divorce.

How to Cope with Divorce at a Glance

What You Should Do
What You Shouldn't Do
Remain active; maintain your routine
Hide in bed or drown sorrows with alcohol
Add positive changes to your routine
Go to the places that hold memories from your marriage
Maintain good personal grooming habits
Let your appearance suffer
Talk to the supportive people in your life
Bottle your feelings inside yourself
Make plans
Fail to set goals for yourself and your life
Give yourself time to adjust to the changes
Expect that your feelings will just go away
Socialize; develop new friendships or re-establish old ones
Become withdrawn, isolate yourself
If you have children, spend positive and consistent time with them
Ignore your children or berate your former spouse to them

Life After Divorce for Men with Kids

What to Do After a Divorce for Men

Although you may be tempted to stay in bed with the covers over your head, this is the last thing you should be doing after a divorce, or any major life change. As difficult as it may be at first, you need to maintain as much of your daily routine as possible -- go to work, watch football, work out at the gym. You're also going to need to find a way to put new activities in your routine that your spouse may have carried out during the marriage such as laundry and housework.

That being said, you also need to bring more energy into your life by changing or adding to your routine. If you've always carried a lunch to work, choose to go out for lunch a few days each week. Avoid places you and your spouse used to frequent; choose one or more new places to try.

Keep your personal grooming habits; don't let them slip, or if they have, begin a new routine. Looking your best will help you towards feeling your best and the people around you will respond more positively than if you allow yourself to be disheveled and forlorn.

Talk to the supportive people in your life. Your family and friends offer opportunities for you to talk about your feelings and your plans.

Make plans for the future, whether that starts out by being one day at a time, or setting long- term goals that you will begin to make steps toward fulfilling. Be realistic in setting your plans and goals; if what you choose is too lofty or unattainable, you are setting yourself up for failure -- something that isn't going to build your confidence or self-esteem.

Allow yourself time to adjust to the changes that are happening. There is no right or wrong time period for a man to learn to cope with life after divorce. A divorce is much like a funeral for your relationship. You allow yourself time to grieve after the death of a loved one; allow yourself those same feelings after our divorce or break-up.

Socializing is an important aspect of how to cope with a divorce for men.
Socializing is an important aspect of how to cope with a divorce for men. | Source

Ideas for Socializing After Divorce for Men

You might want to "get back on the horse that just threw you," meaning become involved in a romantic relationship with a new partner after the inks dries on your divorce papers, but if you haven't emotionally worked through everything a significant change like divorce brings, what are you really offering the other person?

Again, there are no hard and fast rules about a standard time period before you should begin dating after a divorce. This is something you'll need to work out for yourself. When you do begin to date, be upfront with the new person; if you're not looking for a serious relationship yet, just say so. It will lead to less disappointment and frustration for both of you down the line.

Hanging out with your old frat brothers or shooting some pool at the local tavern are good activities, both for socializing, having emotional support and changing your routine. Just monitor your alcohol consumption; you don't want to initiate a new problem or re-invent an old one.

Parents Without Partners is a support group for single parents. The groups provide a positive environment for both parents and children. You need not be a custodial parent to join this nonprofit organization with chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Join one of the many support groups listed below for men coping with divorce, or check your local newspaper for support groups in your area. If there are no support groups where you live, think about establishing one.

Take a class. No matter your age, you'll find like-minded people taking adult classwork at a nearby high school, community college or university. Class topics are diverse; you can find classes on woodworking, learning a new language, or even how to home brew beer.

How to Know What You're Feeling Is Depression

Many people have the mistaken idea that the only symptom of depression is a feeling of sadness or being melancholy. The truth is, there are other signs and symptoms that may be present to let you know you are experiencing clinical depression:

  • Escapist behavior: Throwing yourself into work or exercise or any activity into excess. Even if you aren't conscious of why you are doing this, it is to keep yourself from thinking about the emotional situation at hand.
  • Risky Sexual Behavior
  • Inappropriate anger/easily irritated
  • Drug or alcohol abuse or misuse
  • Controlling and/or abusive behavior

If you recognize these feelings or behaviors in yourself, understand that there is help available. Depression is a treatable disease, but one that is not likely to go away on its own. Consult your family health care provider or contact a mental health professional to arrange an appointment.

It isn't weakness to seek help for depression, any more than it would be to seek help for high blood pressure or back pain.


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