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  • PTSD is often painted a certain way: the result of war, car accidents, assault, and other violent events; however, deep-rooted emotional experiences can cause PTSD, too.
  • Divorce can bring on PTSD, specifically symptoms like night terrors, flashbacks, and troubling thoughts about the divorce or marriage.
  • These symptoms can become exacerbated by reminders of the divorce and seriously affect one’s day to day life.
  • Additionally, divorce can lead to the development of other mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
  • Fortunately, there is help out there for those going through a divorce and those experiencing symptoms of PTSD: therapy has proven effective.
  • If symptoms of PTSD have developed, or you simply need some extra guidance in the wake of your divorce, reach out for help.

Often, when we think about trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), our minds go to war, car accidents, or assault. And while these violent events are certainly traumatic, there are other causes of PTSD, too. In fact, deeply troubling emotional experiences can bring on symptoms of PTSD. “Whereas PTSD used to be mainly associated with what is considered ‘Big T’ (trauma) experiences such as life-threatening experiences and or serious injuries, it is now being seen more widely (and accurately!) applied to experiences such as loss and divorce,” Rachel Ann Dine, Licensed Professional Counselor, explains. Let’s explore the symptoms these individuals present, as well as how they can learn to cope with these symptoms and move forward after divorce.  

What Symptoms of PTSD Do Divorcees Experience?  

PTSD is living in constant fear. It’s waking in the middle of the night (every night) from a bad dream. It’s ruminating over the past and worrying excessively about the present and future. PTSD is different for every person, but it’s characterized by troubling symptoms (such as fear, excessive worry, and nightmares) that develop after exposure to a traumatic event—like divorce.  

The end of a marriage can absolutely bring on a diagnosis of PTSD and symptoms, which often include night terrors, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts related to the upsetting divorce, and even physical symptoms if a person is exposed to traumatic reminders of the divorce,” Dine explains. “If the divorce was a very negative, emotionally heightened experience, symptoms of PTSD can surface even more so and affect your day to day life.  

Divorce can also increase susceptibility to other mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, as explained by Dine: “In addition to PTSD, divorce can bring about symptoms of depression, anxiety, and a complete loss of trust. Divorces and separations can be immensely painful, and symptoms may not even surface until months after the divorce is finalized.”  

How Can I Deal with PTSD and Heal from Divorce?  

PTSD is immensely troubling and can make healing from or moving forward after divorce that much harder. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Therapy has proven to help those with PTSD, as well as those who are going through or have gone through divorce.  

“It’s so important to reach out for help if you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, as seeing a therapist is a great way to start healing and learn coping skills that will work for you and increase your quality of life,” says Dine. “It never matters how long ago your divorce may have occurred, anytime you begin to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, flashbacks, intrusive/unwanted thoughts, it is vital to reach out and seek assistance. We are all different and how symptoms manifest themselves will differ from person to person. Be empowered to heal by recognizing you need help, and then asking for support!

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

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