Tending To Your Mental Health During A Divorce

Updated June 14, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Content warning: This article includes references to topics that may be considered triggering. Please proceed with discretion. If you are in need of immediate support, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

Going through a divorce, no matter the reason, is rarely easy. Ending a marriage often represents a major life upheaval, a change in relationship dynamics, and a point of reflection on what a person wants from love and life. Children, family members, and other complicating factors may also be involved. For these reasons, divorce can often come with a range of intense emotions, from devastation to anger and everything in between. It’s not uncommon for people going through divorce to wrestle with their emotions or struggle to identify how they should be feeling. While these experiences can all be normal, they are also another reason it’s so important to take care of your mental and emotional well being when you’re getting a divorce. 

With this in mind, let’s dive into how divorce can affect our mental health, and what you can do to tend to yourself during this major life transition.

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You don’t have to go through a divorce alone

The mental health effects of divorce

Many people are familiar with the emotional and existential side effects of getting divorced. Often, ending a marriage can force you to reexamine your place in the world, your feelings about love and romance, your life goals, and your needs. It may also come with legal challenges, custody disputes, and other sources of significant stress. This, combined with potential feelings of relief, anger, resentment, or depression, can make for an emotional rollercoaster ride. 

What fewer people realize, however, is that the effects of divorce can go beyond just confusion or conflicting emotions. Divorce can lead to a range of mental health symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. In some cases, it can even affect physical health, with a 2020 study from Frontiers in Psychology finding that recent divorce can lead to lowered vitality, reduced emotional and social functioning, and worse overall health than in the general population

How to take care of yourself during a divorce

Given how challenging and taxing a divorce can be, it’s critical to take care of yourself during what may be a confusing and emotionally raw time. By taking steps to tend to your mental health, you may be able to counteract some of the negative impacts divorce can bring. Strategies for taking care of your mental health during a divorce may include:

Nurturing your other relationships

Although your marriage is coming to an end, that doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationships. By setting aside time to spend with friends, family, and others in your community, you can continue to foster meaningful social connections and avoid isolation in the aftermath of a divorce.

Practicing self-care

Self-care can be easy to neglect during stressful times, but it can also be crucial for ensuring your body and mind are at their best. Make a point to practice good hygiene, get physical exercise, and engage in pleasurable activities in order to help offset the potential stress of a divorce.

Broadening your horizons

It’s not uncommon for people to find themselves looking for a purpose or after getting divorced. Consider seeking a new source of meaning in your life, whether through work, volunteering, a hobby, or your other relationships. By expanding your horizons, you can take the first step to building an identity independent of your relationship and ex-spouse.

Avoid relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms

It can be tempting to deal with the stress of divorce through the use of alcohol, drugs, or excessive time spent on social media. As pleasurable as these things can be in the moment, they may be creating the potential for future mental health and substance challenges. Instead, focus on finding constructive, safe outlets for your emotions.

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

In addition to these strategies, it’s also important to seek help if you need it, either through your own support network, a mental health practitioner, or a hotline, such as the Crisis Text Line, which can be reached by texting HOME to 741741.


Getting support through therapy

The previous section highlighted just a few of the ways you can take care of your mental health during the stress and confusion of a divorce. However, even with these strategies in mind, some individuals also choose to seek out the guidance of a mental health professional. A licensed therapist or relationship counselor can provide a safe, neutral space for exploring the emotions surrounding a divorce and provide strategies for moving forward in a healthy way. 

That said, because divorce can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety, which can make it difficult to leave the house, in-person therapy may not always be an ideal option. Online therapy, through platforms like Regain (for couples) or BetterHelp (for individuals), has been growing in popularity for its convenience and availability, allowing clients to schedule and attend therapy sessions wherever is most convenient. For those whose divorces have taken a significant toll on their mental health, this may make online therapy an appealing alternative to commuting to a therapist’s office in-person.

Online therapy’s effectiveness has been studied in both individuals and couples. One study, from 2017, found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was effective at treating mental health conditions such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Another study, from 2022, found that couples who received counseling via video conference saw similar improvements in relationship satisfaction, stress, anxiety, and depression as couples who received in-person counseling.

You don’t have to go through a divorce alone


Divorce is rarely ever easy. Due to the upheaval it can bring, it’s not uncommon to experience emotional and mental health challenges, such as anxiety, stress, or depression, while going through a divorce. That said, it may be possible to reduce the impact of divorce on your mental health by practicing self care, tending to your other relationships, expanding your horizons, and seeking help when you need it, while avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

If you would like extra support in managing the effects of a divorce, you can also get matched with a licensed therapist through Regain (for couples) or BetterHelp (for individuals). 

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