Since your marriage fell apart, you’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with your heart pounding. Sometimes can barely catch your breath. You go about your day with a strange feeling of detachment, almost like you’re watching someone else’s life. You may be suffering from anxiety because of the stress of divorce, and you’re not alone.
According to U. S. Surgeon General
, about 30 to 40 percent of those undergoing divorce report a significant increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety (Brown & Harris, 1989). “Any life change is anxiety and stress producing but divorce is one of the worst because it creates an unknown, unpredicted situation with lots of insecurity, low self-esteem and fear,” said Lucinda Bassett
, CEO of the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety.
The strong feelings of panic
can create uncomfortable a number of physical symptoms, including sweating, chills, chest pain, shaking, tingling or numbness, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness, lightheadedness, a fear of losing control or going crazy and fear of dying. For some, these panic attacks can be so severe that they mimic a physical illness.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor as they try to figure out what’s wrong. Even though the unnerving feelings you are having may be a panic or anxiety attack, they don’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder. What you are experiencing may be just a normal anxiety response to divorce.
”Acute stress disorder is a normal response to a really shocking traumatic event. If you’re going through a divorce it’s very normal and appropriate to have several weeks where you can’t sleep, cry a lot or feel frightened, angry, hurt, sad, scared, and abandoned,” said Jerilyn Ross
, M.A., L.I.C.S.W., author of “Triumph Over Fear
." Here are 10 tips to help you deal with those feeling. TiPS TO DEAL WITH DIVORCE-RELATED ANXIETY
1. Realize the feelings are normal.
“When someone is facing a major life change, it can be frightening and full of unknowns. So, a whole range of emotions are brought to surface and it’s normal to feel anxious,” said Ross.2. Let yourself mourn.
Set the timer, put on a somebody-done-somebody-wrong song and be sad for a half hour. Cry. Be angry. Journal. Then, make sure you have someplace to go afterward. 3. Observe your thoughts.
Your emotions can create a panic attack whether you’re sitting in your living room or the courthouse. That’s because constantly worrying about your divorce can create a biochemical reaction. Your adrenalin rushes, causing your heart to beat faster and your mind to race. “Ask yourself, ‘Is this thought I’m having right now a productive thought? Is it helping me in any way? What would help me?” said Ross. 4. Do some stress management.
“When we’re stressed all the things we normally do to help us feel good, like exercising, eating well, and socializing are often the first things to go by the wayside. Those are the very things that people need to do to keep stress at bay,” said Ross. So, take some slow deep breaths; sign up for a yoga class; go for a walk; stock up on those fruits and veggies; and work at going to bed at the same time every night. Especially, get your exercise. “Exercise is critical because it increases your serotonin and your sense of well being. You’re not going to feel like doing it; but, once you’re there, you will feel better afterward,” said Ross. 5. Record your triumps in your diary.
Yes, you’re going to have days when taking a shower is a major accomplishment. So, get yourself some gold stars and paste them into your journal and celebrate the fact that you at least got dressed.