Depression and Anxiety after a Breakup or Divorce

Darina Alban, MSW | Couples TherapyDealing with the loss of a relationship is much like grieving. You have lost a person who is very significant in your life, and there is a sense of finality to this loss. With the severance of a relationship comes the realization that the future you had envisioned with your partner is now gone forever, and you may find it impossible to imagine a future without him or her. To make matters worse, you may blame yourself for this loss, wondering what’s wrong with you or what you could have done differently to save your relationship.

As you struggle to make sense of this situation, you find yourself so preoccupied with negative feelings and self-doubt that you can barely function. Your mind wanders frequently, and you feel detached. You have trouble listening when others are talking to you. In private moments, you experience a deep sense of sadness that you can’t control or explain. At night, your sleep is restless as you endlessly replay events in your mind.
Sensing your pain, well-meaning friends and family are quick with advice: move on with your life, let bygones be bygones, enjoy being single again! You only wish it were that easy. Part of you understands that other people rebound from breakups all the time; but you can’t fathom how you will ever recover from yours. You desperately wish you could just forget the past and move forward, but you can’t stop mourning what could have been.

How Therapy Can Help

In the wake of a breakup or divorce, individual therapy can be very effective in helping you break the cycle of depression and successfully transition to the next phase of your life. In therapy, we will help you move through three stages of recovery: (1) Grieving and Acceptance, (2) Reflection and Forgiveness (3) Paving a Way Forward.

In the initial phase of therapy, we will focus on grieving the loss of your relationship and acknowledging that the relationship is over. Our sessions will provide an outlet for your emotional pain and a safe space in which you can learn to resist any thoughts of resurrecting your failed relationship. Such thoughts may seem hopeful, but in fact they are preventing you from accepting your situation.

In the next phase, we will work toward helping you achieve a better understanding of yourself and your feelings in the context of your relationships. As an individual, you have unique emotional needs that any successful relationship must meet. By reflecting on your upbringing and other factors that have shaped you as an individual, you can identify your core needs and better understand what you need out of a relationship. Armed with this knowledge, we will reflect on how and why your previous relationship failed to meet your particular needs, moving past placing blame on yourself or on your partner. Forgiving yourself—and your partner—is an important hurdle in the road to recovery.

In the final phase, we will focus on paving a way forward: restoring your confidence and fostering an optimistic outlook toward future relationships. Having established what your emotional needs are, our sessions will now focus on developing more effective habits of emotional communication. By clearly communicating what your emotional needs are, you will greatly improve your ability to establish and navigate a new relationship with a partner who is willing and able to meet those needs.

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Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.Albert Einstein