Healing From a Nervous Breakdown After Divorce

A nervous breakdown after divorce can turn your world upside down and feel impossible to break free from. By understanding how divorce can trigger a nervous breakdown and the ways that treatment can help you heal from a nervous breakdown following a divorce, you will realize that you can overcome it and move forward into a new chapter of your life.

A divorce can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. It can single-handedly led to a rise in mental, financial, and emotional stress to a degree that many people are not prepared for. When these stressors are paired with a lack of resources or an inability to cope, it can exacerbate underlying mental health issues and spiral into to a nervous breakdown.

Following her own divorce several years ago, Kalista experienced just such a breakdown with the language of someone who had suffered a serious loss.

“I couldn’t stop crying,” she says.” I missed him so much. It was as if he had died—I guess, in a way, he did, or at least our relationship did. I couldn’t focus at work. I could barely function at home. I didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. I felt so lost, and so utterly, suddenly alone.”

In the midst of a divorce, the idea that your life will one day return to normal may feel impossible. Managing daily stresses and commitments transforms from a relatively minor chore into a monumental task. This is why treatment programs are so crucial for breakdowns stemming from divorce—they give you a safe, compassionate space to get your bearings and put yourself back together before reentering the world.

How Divorce Can Trigger a Nervous Breakdown


Nervous breakdowns are mental health crises that render you unable to function normally. They can be tied to various mental health disorders, including panic disorder, depression, and psychosis. Given the massive amount of stress that accompanies divorce, it’s not uncommon for breakdowns to arise during this time. Consider the feelings that divorce tends to trigger: sadness, anger, fear, resentment. These are all commonly experienced even in the absence of a mental breakdown. But for some people, the flurry of emotion and uncertainty about the future following the end of a marriage is enough to throw their mental state out of its equilibrium.

Some signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown include:

  • Feelings of depression or anxiety that are more overwhelming than before
  • Being unable to participate in normal activities
  • Social isolation
  • Trouble focusing and making decisions
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Decreased self-care

Although it’s important to remember that feeling in disarray is normal following a divorce, you need to distinguish between normal emotions and those that are extreme enough to warrant mental health treatment. If you’re finding yourself unable to cope with your life without your marriage or partner to lean on for support, you should consider the possibility that you are suffering from a nervous breakdown.

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Healing from a Nervous Breakdown Following a Divorce


 The constant stress following a divorce makes this a period where your mental health is extremely vulnerable. And once you begin experiencing a nervous breakdown, it can be very difficult to channel your energy towards healing. But in a treatment program that provides a compassionate environment designed to foster personal growth, you’ll be able to focus yourself and regain control of your life. As Kallista says, “I didn’t know how lost I was until I began treatment and realized that in order to heal, I needed to find myself again—find out who I was and how I, personally, could cope with my life without my husband and our marriage.”

Identifying the root causes of your breakdown is extremely important. While divorce is the trigger, that doesn’t necessarily make it the cause. It could have simply exacerbated underlying mental health issues that are the driving forces of your struggle. To properly recover, you need to engage in treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). These will help you develop strategies and approaches to thinking and acting that can help you get a hold of your life.

Given the personal nature of a divorce, it’s likely that your family and friends have been affected by your situation as well. Treatment programs provide you with individual, group, and family therapy that can help you and your loved ones address the issues stemming from your divorce. Once you leave, you will still remain connected to the support networks you developed during your stay.

Addiction and nervous breakdowns often coincide, and it’s also not uncommon for people to use substances to mask the pain and confusion that seems to overwhelm them after their split. But despite the temporary relief they bring, using to escape your situation merely adds fuel to the emotions that are driving your breakdown. Using the supports offered by professional treatment is crucial to address substance abuse problems in what is a very chaotic time in your life.

Regardless of what your recovery entails, a comprehensive treatment program is necessary to uncover the root causes of your breakdown and address them as best as possible. Through standard and traditional therapies coupled with unique holistic tools, you will gain a better understanding of why your breakdown happened and how you can overcome it. Divorce is a difficult chapter of your life, but with the right help, the negative emotions that come with it can help you turn the page and pave the way to a new, positive road into the future.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders and eating disorders. Contact us for more information about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward restored wellness.