Depression & Divorce: The Five Stages of Loss

depression caused by divorce

Irrespective of how a marriage/relationship ends there can be some mental health issues that may stem from its dissolution. 

The most important thing to know is that mental health affects everyone differently but it is completely normal to experience some issues when dealing with traumatic life events.

At Epstein & Associates, we have outlined five stages of loss you may be going through after a divorce. 

Denial & Grief: You can’t believe it is happening 

Denial and grief are overwhelming emotions. It’s not unusual to respond to the intense and often sudden feelings by pretending the loss or change isn’t happening. 

Denying it gives you time to more gradually absorb the news and begin to process it. 

This is a common defence mechanism and helps numb you to the intensity of the situation.

Anger: A masking effect

Where denial can be seen as a coping mechanism, anger is more of a masking effect.

If you are angry and going through divorce, you may hide many of the emotions and pain that you carry. This anger may be redirected to other people, such as your ex.

You may even aim your anger at inanimate objects, such as old photos or memorabilia. While your brain knows the object of your anger isn’t to blame, your feelings in that moment are too intense to realize that.

Self-Bartering: Attempting to fix the damage that was done

You may think that if you ignore your differences and pretend everything is okay that you can keep your marriage going and live happily ever after.

Convincing yourself that you will never find anyone who treats you the way they did, or that there was something that you could have done differently, are normal thoughts. These may make you want to try again and/or forget about the divorce.

It is also not uncommon to try to get your spouse back, or convince them that you can work it out when experiencing these thoughts/feelings. This is just your mind trying to come to terms with this major decision.

Depression: Divorce is hard

Depression caused by divorce is not an easy process to go through; if you find yourself falling into a slump or feeling sad, that is a very normal reaction. 

Like anger, this stage is repetitive and may affect you more than the others. You may need to talk to a therapist, or counsellor, to get through it, but it is important to keep in mind that the feeling is not forever. 

Sometimes therapy can not only be beneficial to get through this step but can also help you in future relationships. 

Acceptance: Understanding and growth

Typically once you are ready to move on and have passed through some or all of these stages, you hit the acceptance stage. 

Just because you accept your divorce does not mean it makes you feel happy all of a sudden. 

Acceptance means that you have finally realized your divorce is real and that you have moved past it. This allows you to cope with the situation and deal with the emotions in a positive way.


Divorce can be an extremely challenging time in your life and knowing that there are stages of loss that you will go through is very important. 

Denial, anger, self-bartering and depression are all very real emotions that you may face.  In many cases, these feelings are exacerbated by feelings of fear as well.

Here at Epstein & Associates, we know how difficult the divorce process can be and we want to make sure that you feel heard and supported throughout. We have also outlined another five key factors that will help prepare you for the actual process of the divorce process if you would like to learn more

Please feel free to contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation and speak with one of our lawyers to see how we can assist you today.