Can a Divorce Result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

by | Mar 21, 2023 | Divorce Long Island, NY

The process of getting divorced is emotionally difficult no matter which side you’re on. It doesn’t matter if it was  your decision or your spouse’s, it’s always traumatic to end what you thought in your heart would be a lifetime together. The stress of dissolving your marriage can have lasting psychological effects for anyone and in some cases may lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Here’s what you should be aware of, how to cope with post-divorce stress, and what an experienced Long Island, NY divorce lawyer can do to help you. 

The Common Psychological Effects of Divorce

Divorce is usually an extremely stressful and emotional life event for everyone involved, and the psychological effects can be far-reaching depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce. For example, it’s common for either or both spouses to feel overwhelmed, sad, confused, helpless, ashamed, and embarrassed. 

There may also be a sense of relief or the lifting of a burden. Many people struggle with changes in self-identity, particularly people who were married young and/or have been married for a significant amount of time prior to their divorce. 

How Divorce Can Lead To PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a serious mental health condition that typically comes about after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, including experiences such as natural disasters, the death of someone close, a car accident, or an abusive family dynamic. This condition goes beyond the normal feelings of sadness or frustration after getting a divorce and can cause significant impairment in daily living. 

Several factors can increase the risk of developing PTSD after a divorce, including but not limited to: 

  • If the divorce was unexpected or came as a complete shock
  • If there was infidelity involved
  • If there was physical or emotional abuse during the marriage
  • If custody arrangements are disputed and/or child visitation is limited
  • If parental alienation occurs

Signs & Symptoms of PTSD After Divorce

PTSD symptoms can vary widely between people from person to person and may come about at different times. For some, symptoms may appear immediately after the divorce. For others, these symptoms may not emerge until months or even years later. This can include: 

  • Intrusive thoughts or memories of the divorce 
  • Replaying events over in your mind
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the divorce
  • Negative changes in mood and thinking 
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions 
  • Irritability 
  • Insomnia

Coping With Post-Divorce PTSD

While PTSD after a divorce is challenging, there are several healthy coping mechanisms that can help you manage its effects.

First, it’s important to give yourself time to grieve the loss of your marriage. This means allowing yourself to feel sad, angry, and scared. You should also consider talking about your feelings with family and friends who can offer support and understanding.

It’s also crucial to take care of yourself physically, including eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. These help regulate your nervous system, which in turn gives you more endurance to handle emotional stress too. 

You can also find ways to express yourself creatively, like painting, writing, or playing music. Doing things that make you feel good or creating something beautiful can help you cope with stress and improve your self-esteem.

When To Seek Professional Support 

If you are struggling to cope with post-divorce PTSD on your own, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. Experienced professional therapists can provide support and guidance as you work through challenges and help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with triggers in positive ways. In some cases, medication may also be recommended by a doctor or therapist to manage the physical symptoms of PTSD, like anxiety or depression.

How A Competent Long Island, NY Divorce Attorney Can Help

An experienced Long Island, NY divorce attorney can be an invaluable asset when going through a divorce, especially if there are children involved. Your lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and minimize some of the stress of paperwork or dealing with your spouse’s attorneys, so you can focus on taking care of yourself and building new opportunities for your future. They can also provide guidance on how to deal with custody and visitation issues, property division, and other important matters. Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today for more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your divorce options and start getting the help you need. Call now by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form on this page.


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