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When Will Things Get Better?

Help for Single Parents Coping With Depression

By

A stressed-out mom.

While divorce can worsen depression, know that it will get better with time.

Photo © Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Question:

I never thought I'd be a single mom, but here I am raising two young kids on my own. Unfortunately, I'm dealing with the divorce and depression at the same time. Lots of people have told me that it will get better, but what I want to know is when. When will it get better?

Answer:

Divorce and depression can go hand in hand. If you've consistently been feeling down or hopeless for more than two weeks, you've noticed changes in your regular eating and sleeping habits, or you feel unable to cope with your emotions, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible. It's not uncommon for divorce to bring on or exacerbate depression, and your doctor can best determine whether you need counseling, pharmacological help, or a combination of the two.

In addition, it's important to take good care of yourself during this time of transition in your life. No one can predict exactly how long it will take for you to adjust to your "new normal" and feel like life is getting back on track. The timing is different for every person, and many different variables contribute to what makes moving on more difficult for one person than it is for another. However, there are some things that you can do, along with your doctor's recommendations, to accelerate your recovery from the divorce and depression:

  1. Surround Yourself With Caring, Supportive People

    Be intentional about spending time with people who love and appreciate you, and pulling back from people who are overly critical or who drain your energy.
  2. Ask for Help

    Don't assume that your friends and family know what you need during this time. Be willing to take risks and ask them openly for what you need, whether it's someone to babysit occasionally or someone who's willing to listen to you rant about your circumstances without chiming in with advice or attempting to offer a "quick fix" to your problems.
  3. Write Down Your Thoughts

    From journaling to creating lists, writing things down can help you recognize your accomplishments and focus on what you can control.
  4. Seek Counseling

    Working with a professional counselor or therapist can help you put the past behind you and recognize the inner strength you possess.
  5. Let Go of What You Can Not Control

    You may be familiar with what's known as "The Serenity Prayer."
    God, grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.
    We waste a lot of energy in life trying to change things that are not in our control. Think about what most worries you right now. Is it something you have the power to change? If it's not, let it go for the time being and trust that when and if you can do something about it in the future, you will. Meanwhile, focus your energy on the things you can control, like your own attitude, your example you're setting for your children, and the life you're building together.

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