"As difficult as a situation might be, relying on a medication to help get you through the experience is not a genuine solution in improving one’s self long-term."
Given how difficult the experience of divorce can be, it is no surprise that many people would seek the comfort and support from various substances. Medication can often be a means to heal, and its use has been linked to both positive experiences that have helped support individuals during difficult circumstances, and causes of addiction and destructive behavior.
The balance can be very tricky, especially given how much evidence shows the positive effects of medication on anxiety and stress. Before, during, and after a divorce can be times of a great deal of depression, anxiety and stress. Anxiety, in of itself, has a lifetime prevalence in 28.8 percent of the United States adult population, and 18.1 percent in a 12-month prevalence, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Considering the average length of the divorce experience could take months or even years, anxiety and stress can build up over time, causing the suffering individual to seek support.
One of the most common avenues of support for stress, depression, and anxiety during this process is medication. The types of medications can vary from an antidepressant to an anti-anxiety medication, according to Healthline.
There is a common misconception regarding anxiety, stress, and psychiatric medication, according to Psychology Today. The misconception is that a pill will end their suffering. All of their mental and emotional problems will be washed away with one prescription or one refill or one capsule.
The thought process makes sense when you consider how other ailments are treated. When someone has a headache, they take aspirin, and the medication makes them feel better. When someone has a cough, they take a cough drop or cough medicine, and they stop coughing. The human mind does not necessarily subscribe to the same line of thinking.
Because of the placebo effect that many people experience when taking substances, people become reliant on the medications themselves to solve their problems, even if the medications are not actually making an impact. Even if the treatment is occurring with medication, there’s a strong chance that the treatment isn’t adequate enough. While 36.9 percent of those servicing their anxiety and stress over the course of 12-months have sought help, 34.3 percent of those individuals are being treated with minimally adequate treatment according to the National Institute for Mental Health.
While seeking treatment, it’s important to remember where you want to be as a person. During a divorce, it might seem attractive to simply want to find a quick solution and avoid thinking about the person you would want to be moving forward. However, it’s important to consider your trajectory, especially if you are a parent.
Your children need a functioning adult to help nurture their growth, and while certain medications may seem like attractive, quick fixes to the anxiety and various issues that you face, they may not be as beneficial to your children, who are looking to their parent to be the adult in this situation.
Doing the research
The University of Helsinki’s Department of Social Research examined how the prevalence of certain medications can change before and after a divorce. They found that having psychological problems, stress, or anxiety seems more to do with the process of divorce, as opposed to the disadvantages of post-divorce life.
They also found that excess use of medication has more to do with psychological support and is not necessarily related to socioeconomic disadvantage that divorce can sometimes cause.
There are many alternatives to substances that a doctor may prescribe in treatment for depression, anxiety, stress and other psychiatric issues, such as art therapy, acupuncture, psychotherapy, or massage therapy. These alternatives provide a healthy, nuanced way to treat ailments of the divorce experience.
As difficult as a situation might be, relying on a medication to help get you through the experience is not a genuine solution in improving one’s self long-term. Long-term treatment tends to be for long-existing conditions, and while the stress of divorce can cause depression, anxiety, and stress, it’s not necessarily a process that will last forever, which means over time, there will be less of a need to rely on medication.
Relying on any substance over a long period of time causes your body to build up a tolerance to that substance, which forces individuals to find stronger forms of the medication or take a stronger dosage of the same medication. This cycle can continue on and on and does not always end in the healthiest of manners.
Medication can do wonders treating the symptoms and diseases of all sorts. However, it’s important to be mindful of the substances that go into your body, especially during a time in your life when you may be the most vulnerable. Divorce is already splitting so much of what you own in half. It’s crucial not to let it split you in half, as well.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.