Addressing PTSD in the Aftermath of Divorce

The Traumatic Events of a Divorce May Even Trigger PTSD, But It Often Goes Unnoticed or Untreated.

Addressing PTSD in the Aftermath of Divorce in New JerseyGoing through a divorce upends your entire life. It may cause you to move, change jobs, and even put a strain on your relationship with your children through sharing two homes and spending less time together. Beyond the fall out of your divorce, the conflict that caused the dissolution of your marriage might still be ongoing or it may have left deep emotional or even physical wounds.

For some individuals, their divorce can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is very common for spouses to not even realize that the symptoms they are experiencing are signs of PTSD nor take the time to be evaluated by a medical professional. We often associate PTSD with soldiers in war, not realizing that emotional abuse, physical abuse in a domestic relationship, or simply the upending of life as you knew it are all traumatic events that can result in a disorder that warrants medical attention and treatment for proper healing and coping.

The Lingering Effects of Trauma in Divorce Scenarios

Trauma can have a hidden yet profound impact on the human mind. Much of the damage caused by a traumatic event or ongoing trauma can take time to surface, particularly when individuals are in “survival mode.” It is often after the traumatic influences subside that the signs of PTSD can be observed.

Divorce has become commonplace in our culture, which can cause an individual going through a divorce to downplay the pain and trauma they are experiencing. However, this normalcy bias is a fiction. Human beings are greatly affected by an event as significant as a divorce, regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes, the divorce process itself and the aftermath can be more traumatizing than the events and conflict leading to the divorce. Other times, a divorce is a necessary decision to break free from a toxic or abusive relationship.

Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Post-Divorce Trauma

Trauma leaves a mark on the subconscious in a way that penetrates our inner thoughts and being and can even cause physical symptoms. One of the most immediate signs of PTSD, especially to those around you, is the tendency for emotional dysregulation in the form of anxiety, depression, mood swings, and intense emotional reactions. It is also common for individuals suffering from PTSD, especially stemming from events and experiences related to violence, to experience heightened arousal or be startled. They may also avoid places, people, and anything that triggers memories of the traumatic event.

PTSD can manifest itself in physical symptoms like heart palpitations, jitteriness, fatigue, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, difficulty waking, and gastrointestinal issues. Perhaps one of the most distressing symptoms to individuals suffering with PTSD is the experience of intrusive memories, thoughts, and flashbacks. One could be going about their day, shopping in a grocery store, and then, suddenly, think they see someone who looks like their abuser and immediately become anxious and fearful. Another example of this could be hearing a song or smelling a scent that triggers a memory from a time when the traumatic events were happening, which then causes a downhill spiral of distress.

Healing Trauma and Rebuilding After a NJ Divorce

Everyone deserves to live a life of peace and safety, yet sometimes, even when we move to physical safety, our bodies continue to process the trauma of the stress and danger we experienced in the past, which can cause us to experience continued trauma from the stored memories in our minds and bodies. Left untreated, PTSD can fester and sink its roots into our lives. The old adage that “time heals all wounds” is often not so. Traumatic childhood events alone can shape a person forever and define them if they do not seek proper support and treatment.

A divorce can be a new beginning in your life, but first, you must address underlying trauma. While physical safety can be achieved through physical separation between you and your spouse, emotional safety and wellbeing takes an investment of time and effort to regain. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you if you are struggling with PTSD depression, and anxiety following a divorce. You may benefit greatly by the open ear of a neutral therapist who can help you to process through everything that has happened and then shift towards where you are going next. Your case might involve more treatment in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.

In addition to working with a professional, many individuals benefit from getting engaged in their communities, immersing themselves in a new hobby, or learning a new skill.

Creating Safe Spaces for Children Affected by PTSD after Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly a stressful time for children as well as adults. Children may have a tendency to react with guilt or anger to their parent’s divorce because it is a significant event in their lives that they cannot control or fully understand. It is critical that both parents work cooperatively as much as possible to identify and address signs of stress, anxiety, depression, and/or trauma in their children before, during, and after a divorce.

Ensure that lines of communication between you and your child are always open and that your child understands that it is acceptable to express their feelings without fear of repercussion or fear of hurting your feelings. As much as possible, try to maintain your child’s regular schedule and routine. If the divorce requires your child to move, try to be intentional in implementing a new routine that features familiar rhythms as much as possible.

Can Divorce can PTSD in New Jersey?Finally, but certainly not least, seek professional help for your child if you believe they may be exhibiting any signs of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. A divorce is something that you and your child can get through and grow from; however, to assume that children can or will be resilient without the attention and support of the adults in their lives during this potentially traumatic time is a misconception that can have lasting consequences.

Handle the Legal Aspects of Divorce with an Experienced Family Law Firm

Navigating the divorce process can be overwhelming, especially for those who are already suffering from the effects of PTSD. Having to deal with your ex in settlement negotiations and in court is likely not only something that you are not emotionally equipped to take on alone but also lacks the legal knowledge to handle as effectively as a trusted advocate could on your behalf.

When you choose to work with a New Jersey divorce lawyer at The Montanari Law Group, we will be your dedicated advocate on issues like child custody, child support, alimony, division of marital assets, and protective orders, if necessary. Our attorneys will not just act as a buffer between you and your spouse – they will stand in the gap for you and be the voice you need to protect your physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as your legal and financial rights. Contact our offices in Little Falls for assistance with your divorce case in West Orange, Clifton, Caldwell, Montvale, Totowa, or elsewhere in Essex, Bergen, and Passaic County. As a first step, a member of our team will provide you with a free consultation. Feel free to reach out to us today by calling (973) 233-4396.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.