During a divorce, many look to escape from the emotional anguish that the experience entails through distraction. They indulge themselves in their favorite vices and create a safe space for them to exist in, without the worries or negativity that the ending of a marriage can incite.
Some lean on their support group of friends and family to get them through this rough time. Others lean on their habits like drinking or gambling to help lessen the blow. For others, prescribed medications help take away some of the mental health risks that they may face.
Mental health conditions like anxiety or depression can develop before, during and after the divorce experience. In facing the end of a marriage, you may feel hopeless, as you focus on the uncertainty of the future.
This is the exact reason why depressed individuals who go through the divorce experience and visit trained medical professionals may end up being prescribed antidepressants.
A recent study, published in PLOS One, the Public Library of Science’s journal, examined how adaptive and nonadaptive models of depression compare with data of those who use antidepressant medication during divorce.
These models, the evolutionary-adaptation model (all intervals of time during the divorce experience being depressive), the peak-stress model (periods of time before and after a divorce can be depressive), and the stress-induction model (period of time after a divorce is depressive and the preceding period of time is not) all looked to examine how the difficulty of the divorce experience made antidepressant medication a necessity.
Because of all of the practical and emotional upheavals to your life during the divorce experience, depression can happen. Many studies have looked into whether poor mental health predisposes individuals to divorce, which would be socially selective, or if the stress of divorce causes depression, which would be socially causational. Those studies have found evidence in the relationship between divorce and depression for the roles of causation and selection.
This study, however, found that the evolutionary-adaption model provided the best quantitative description of the data, because it suggested that depression is a mechanism for coping with adversity. The research links depression with adversity and finds that it is the period before the divorce when marital conflict takes place that exposes people to depression, rather than the period after the divorce is finalized.
The results of the study suggest that those who go through a divorce can experience depression before, during or after the finalization of the decree. The timeline of when the bouts with mental health are occurring are found to be less important than the conditions themselves, which is why those going through the divorce experience seek medical treatment and prescribed medication.
While prescribed medication will not wash away all of the mental and emotional suffering that one goes through during the divorce experience, they do work as a way of reaching milestones in one’s road to recovery, which is why those that are depressed feel look to medication and professionals for the help that they seek.
The study confirmed that notion through its assessment that antidepressant use declines after a divorce, not because of the passing of the crisis in one’s life, but because of the success of the treatment of depression. Individuals are seeking out professional help in treating depression.
Taking that active role in working out the complex emotions that are before, during, and after a divorce is a beneficial stance that makes you more mentally prepared to become well again than doing nothing. This is shown through placebo testing that finds that placebos have an almost equally large negative effect on depressive symptoms.
These results are explained through the evolutionary interpretation that states that if depression signals a need, then drug treatment, whether it is active or placebo, communicates to the patient that doctors take this need seriously, which can reduce the signaling of symptoms of depression.
Through examining the use of antidepressants at various points of a depressive state during the divorce experience, you can see how treatment for some of the symptoms can be effective in helping one move past the end of their marriage and forward in life.