Depression can occur after denial, anger and bargaining have failed and represents a breakdown of the painful emotions tied to a particular event such as divorce. This portion of the grieving process is typically considered rock bottom. During this phase or stage, emotions can range between being completely denied or blown way out of proportion.
Some of the symptoms of depression are: Sadness and hopelessness; Loss of appetite; Insomnia; Inability to enjoy anything; Anxious or restless behavior; Apathy; Preoccupation with thoughts of suicide; Wishing to be dead; Difficulty in concentration and making decisions; Poor memory; Irritability; Feelings of worthlessness; Inability to cry even if one desperately needs or wants to (Source: http://www.healingheart.net/depressi.htm).
According to the National Institute of Mental Health symptoms of depressed children can be different from adults:
The depressed child may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that the parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood. Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary “phase” or is suffering from depression.
Depression can have varying degrees of intensity and last for different amounts of time depending on the person, their family history, and support system. Sometimes professional counseling and medication are necessary to treat depression, which is a real illness with real symptoms that are treatable. A lot of the symptoms of the disease have to do with our feelings, and not just physical symptoms so they are often misunderstood or misdiagnosed. We all have ups and downs in life, but a major life changing event such as divorce can cause a chemical reaction in our bodies, which may in turn cause clinical depression.
Talking to people about how we feel, and asking for help while beginning to re-establish a self-identity outside of the relationship will help individuals to work through the depression. Ensuring that our children have someone to talk with will help them to deal with their feelings as well. Do not be afraid to seek professional help for your child or yourself if life becomes too overwhelming. Taking things one day at a time, exercising and trying to help others can help people living with depression begin to feel better.
If depression is the bottom for you, the good news is that there is only one direction to go when you are at the bottom. Up. In the final blog of this series we will talk about acceptance.