The vast majority of people who go through a divorce or separation are likely to feel, at least, a little 'low' at some point. Even if you are the one who chose to leave the relationship, there are likely to be days when your mood will be down and you will think about what you have lost.
Whether you were the one to end the relationship or not, grieving the loss of a relationship or the hope we had for the future will have an emotional and psychological impact on you; this is
perfectly normal. However, these feelings of sadness and low energy can develop into something more serious.
Depression brings feelings of hopelessness, gloom and a loss of interest and pleasure in life. Very often, the world feels as though it has been drained of all colour. The distinction between feeling ‘low’ or and being depressed is ultimately one of intensity and duration of feeling.
Depression often takes the form of:
Biological symptoms might include:
People who are in a depressed state will often behave out of character and may become angry or irritable very easily or find themselves in tears. They may also feel anxious or nervous and find it
difficult to be around others. It's not uncommon for people who are depressed to have panic attacks.
You can use our self assessment tool, below, to help you think about whether you may affected by depression.
One of the symptoms of depression is a feeling of hopelessness about the future. Being severely depressed can feel like being stuck inside a black hole from which there is no way out. So it is important to remind yourself that the great majority of people do recover and you won’t always feel this bad. Unfortunately, the thoughts and feelings we experience when depressed tend to change our behaviour in ways which further exacerbate the depression.
When you're depressed lack of energy and low self esteem may make you feel like cutting yourself off from others. You may also have a tendency to drop activities which you used to enjoy. In fact social contact and activity can lift your mood. So encourage yourself to continue to see friends and pursue your interests even if you don't feel like it. Isolation and withdrawal are actually likely to increase feelings of depression.
If possible spend time with people who are understanding, supportive and with whom you don't feel you have to put up a front. Allow yourself to express your feelings. But don't take up all their time and see if you can listen to what’s going on in their life too.
If many tasks feel like insurmountable mountains, break them down into smaller more manageable chunks and deal with them one at a time. It can be helpful to give yourself a little reward or treat
after completing each step of a task. Start with the tasks you find easier and build up to the ones which you find more challenging. Make sure you focus on and acknowledge what you have achieved. This will help boost your confidence and motivation.
Exercise regularly, for example, go for a walk, swim or bike ride, do aerobics, go to the gym, play a game of tennis. Strenuous physical activity releases mood enhancing chemicals in the brain.
Look after yourself. It may feel tempting to block out negative feelings by resorting to drugs and alcohol. Remember that although they provide a temporary numbness or ''high'' they are likely in the longer run to exacerbate your feelings of depression.
Some people find self help books useful. You will be able to find a wide selection online or in your local book shop and your local library will have a selection of books that you can borrow.
Depression and anxiety often run hand in hand. Meditation and other forms of relaxation can help. Have a look to see what's available in your area or try downloading a relaxation MP3.