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PTSD and divorce

We have all heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychological condition that occurs after the mind has suffered a great trauma. We associate it with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, police, fire and construction workers from the World Trade Center site and survivors of mass shootings like Aurora and Newtown. And divorce?

Surely, if a marriage involved incidents of domestic violence, we would not be surprised to find a woman suffering from PTSD during and after the divorce. But Lisa Arends describes her experience on the Huffington Post, and notes she was not subjected to domestic violence. But the important element of her story is that while she was not formally diagnosed with PTSD, her symptoms were very close to those of PTSD and medications she received are often used to treat PTSD.

She reacted to the ending of her marriage in a visceral way, literally trembling. She goes on to note, "It's important to realize that all divorces are not the same and we all respond differently. There is no "right" way to be after a divorce. I was embarrassed for a time to reveal the true nature of my symptoms."

We all react differently. The text that let her know her marriage was over knocked the underpinnings of her world out beneath her. She suffered flashbacks and nightmares. Dealing with her husband's attorney left her "paralyzed with fear."

Divorce is a process that carries much "shame" both real and imagined. We think we should react in some fashion, but we cannot really know how we would react until it actually happens.

Respect your feelings and recognize the trauma you are undergoing. She states, "Don't be ashamed to ask for assistance and admit when you cannot do it alone." An attorney can help with the legal process, but other professional are available to assist with all of the other emotional and financial issues you face during a divorce.

Source: The Huffington Post, "PTSD After Divorce," Lisa Arends, January 30, 2013

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