Couples get divorced for a wide range of reasons. In some instances, there can be a feeling of relief once the paperwork is completed. More likely, however, both partners will need time to process the change. Grief, anger, sorrow, and confusions are common reactions and emotions. But then, you move on… right?
Research show this may be more possible for women. In fact, one large study found that men between the ages of 20 and 64 were six times more likely to experience depression after a divorce or separation. As you’re about to see, this may be just the tip of an ominous iceberg.
By the Numbers
Here’s just a sampling of further context and evidence:
- According to studies, men generally usually show more marital happiness than women
- Women initiate divorce seven out of 10 times
- Post-divorce, men struggle more with mental and physical health issues
- Men are far more likely to consider suicide after a divorce or separation
Translation: Divorce is hard on everyone and the increased incidence of male depression requires much more attention.
Why Male Depression is So Common After Divorce
Even when both parties agree that divorce is the best option, the experience will be daunting and unsettling. Generally speaking, the higher likelihood of male depression seems to be based on some important differences between the two sexes, e.g.
Loss of Your Social Network
Men tend to be more casual about friends and their social circle. Divorce often results in your collective friends having to “choose sides.” More often than not, the woman is given custody of the children. This leads to women still being connected to the people involved in their children’s lives, e.g. parents of friends, sporting events, teachers, etc. Thus, it’s not unusual for men to wind up with fewer interpersonal options. This kind of loneliness in a time of grief is a risk factor for depression.
Men Being Men
Men are more likely to ignore the grieving process and perhaps even jump right into dating and/or hooking up. Meanwhile, what you really need is time to digest what has happened. Life, as you know it, has changed forever. Goals, dreams, and potential all must be revisited. Unless this reality is given the attention it deserves, your mental well-being is in danger.
Child Custody/Loss of Identity
Men can feel lost, left out, and forgotten in family life. You will miss milestones and important conversations. In addition, unlike the children’s mother, you will find your sense of identity to be skewed. You’re no longer a husband, of course. You’re still a Dad but everything is different. Combine this with the above-mentioned loneliness and grief avoidance and you can better understand the statistics cited in this post.
Divorce is a Major Challenge for Everyone
This is not to say that men automatically have it harder, post-divorce. There are so many other societal and personal factors to consider. And, to be clear, any kind of breakup can be the cause of extreme distress for both men and women. If you don’t have a support system in place, this distress can escalate into some serious problems. But remember, you do not have to struggle on your own. Therapy is and remains a powerful option for healing and recovery.
I’m here to talk with you about the ordeal of separation. Even if you’ve had trouble opening up to others before, your weekly sessions will be a safe space in which you can explore and discuss. We work at a pace that works for you where you feel in control. If you’re in the midst of a painful divorce, don’t try to just push through it. I invite you to reach out today to set up a free consultation.
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