Friday, December 10, 2010

Dealing with Depression

I'm no therapist, but...

Unfortunately, depression seems to be becoming more common-place during holidays, especially when there's a divorce or other family law procedure pending or recently completed.

The fact that depression isn't discussed much in most divorce and family law cases doesn't mean that it's not a significant factor in many situations. When people think about, or discuss, how people act during a divorce, it's very common for one or both parties to be described as angry. Sometimes more colorful terms, often describing personality disorders, are tossed about. But aggressive actions by a party often mask an underlying depression.

Depression is an under-treated condition that is actually pretty common in divorces. At different times, almost everyone going through a divorce will experience feelings of depression. The good news is that it's not necessarily a permanent condition and there are some things you can do to minimize or avoid depression. recently had an excellent article entitled "10 No Cost Strategies to Fight Depression". The article wasn't about divorce, but I thought the suggestions were excellent (but remember that I'm no therapist...) and they could very easily apply to the divorce context. Here's what they suggested:
  • Don't blame yourself.
  • Talk about it.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Postpone major decisions.
  • Take care of your health.
  • Maintain a daily routine.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Try to sleep well.
  • Don't overschedule.
I would add a corollary: If you think you may be depressed, please tell your lawyer so that s/he can either help you find a counselor or can work out a strategy to compensate for the issue.

The suggestions sound pretty simple, but it is sometimes hard to admit that you are depressed and it may be hard to put aside anger so that you can think rationally. If you sense you are experiencing some symptoms of depression, get help. Seeing a real therapist (not me), staying physically active and maintaining good health can get you started on the road to recovery. Depression usually won't go away by itself. If you avoid treating your depression, it can overcome you and cost you a lot in your divorce or other family law matter. When and if you are depressed, you probably aren't functioning very well and others, maybe including a judge, will notice, and that can affect the outcome of your case.

By the way, even if you aren't depressed and even if you aren't involved in a court case, following the 10 suggestions above will still benefit you by allowing you to be happier and healthier.

If you know of any other effective ways to deal with depression, please add a comment below.

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