What Is Divorce Psychosis?

People often reflect on their divorce proceedings and the decisions they made during their divorce. In some cases, they question why they fought so hard over specific aspects of their divorce. Other times, they wonder why they held on for so long when they knew their marriage was over. They may say things like, “I wasn’t in my right mind then,” or, “I don’t even know who that person was that came out during my divorce.” 

Despite what you may think, it’s quite common for people to have a sort of temporary breakdown during divorce. In fact, there are dozens of articles and videos dedicated to “divorce insanity” or “divorce psychosis.” Although you may not have heard of this term just yet, understanding what it is and how to avoid it could help save you months of litigation and may even help you keep your divorce amicable.

What is divorce psychosis?

Divorce can severely impact a person’s mental state. Sometimes, people in the midst of divorce will lash out at their soon-to-be ex or pick fights over the tiniest details in their settlement. Other times, a person may act in erratic ways that don’t match their typical personality traits. 

When people start making snap decisions that seem out of character or become overly invested in turning their divorce proceedings into a bitter battle, it could be a result of a phenomenon called divorce psychosis.

Although “divorce psychosis” isn’t an official medical term, it is widely used by divorce attorneys and mental health professionals who help people through divorce. This mental health issue typically stems from the pain of divorce, even if the person doesn’t realize they are experiencing pain. 

When people are dealing with extreme psychological distress, it can come out in strange and often unexpected ways.

In other words, people dealing with divorce psychosis become a highly dysfunctional version of themselves.

Brief psychotic disorder

Although there isn’t an official diagnosis called “divorce psychosis,” the term closely relates to a psychological disorder called brief psychotic disorder. 

Like divorce psychosis, brief psychotic disorder is usually triggered by major stress or trauma. However, unlike brief psychotic disorder, most of the delusions and fears people experience during divorce psychosis are usually related to the divorce. In fact, many people who experience divorce psychosis are usually still able to function in other areas of their lives.

Thankfully, the behaviors and aggression that come out during divorce are often temporary. And if you take the right steps to mitigate your stress and care for your emotional health during divorce, you may be able to avoid this drastic impact of divorce altogether.

Tips for emotionally coping before, during, and after divorce

Care for your physical health and emotional health

First and foremost, you must care for your physical and emotional health before, during, and after your divorce. Eating a healthy diet and getting eight hours of rest at night may seem trivial when you’re dealing with battles over assets or child custody. However, taking care of your health and well-being will help you stay grounded and focused as you face the stressors that come your way.

Show yourself grace and compassion

Recognize that you will feel a wide array of emotions throughout the divorce process and even after. It’s important to not only accept these feelings as they come but also to show yourself grace and compassion on those less-than-wonderful days. 

Avoid power struggles and heated conflicts

Similarly, it’s important to avoid power struggles and heated conflicts with your former partner during your divorce and after. Fighting will only make both of you more defensive and cause problems in the long run. Instead, try to look at your divorce from a wise mind, a sort of middle ground between an emotional mind and a rational mind.

Take time to build a new life outside your marriage

You also need to take time to build a new life outside the marriage that is ending. This may mean you need to discover new hobbies, explore interests you’ve never had time to pursue, or reestablish relationships with friends with whom you’ve lost touch. Understanding what life will look like after divorce will help you feel more comfortable with the future and confident in your choices related to the divorce.

Build a solid support system

Building a solid support system that you can rely on throughout this big life event – and afterward – is critical. A support system provides you with safe people to talk to and a safe space to process your feelings. Your support system could also function as your sounding board and accountability system to make sure you’re thinking through every step of your divorce and not making decisions based on your emotions.

Getting help (and helping yourself)

Individual therapy

You may decide to seek professional help from a therapist to help you process the trauma of divorce and heal yourself. Therapy can give you the coping skills and tools you need to make it through the entire divorce process, self-reflecting on your former relationship so you come out stronger on the other side. Therapy can also help you reframe your perspective on the divorce so you don’t feel as stressed, angry, or ashamed.

Read: How to Do Self-Care If You're Not into Self-Care

Group therapy and support groups

Even if you don’t want to go through individual counseling, there are group therapy and social support group options specifically geared toward divorce. Many people find support groups especially helpful since you’re surrounded by others going through the same things that you are. These groups can offer empathy and support in ways that even your closest friends may not be able to.

Legal help 

And, of course, you want to make sure you have the legal help you need to make it through your divorce. Whether you need a mediator or just have questions about the divorce process, Hello Divorce is here to help and support you any way we can. 

At Hello Divorce, we understand that the effects of divorce can wreak havoc when left unchecked. That’s why we’re here: to help people with their divorce cases and in their post-divorce life as they begin a new and exciting chapter.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel – you just have to hang on until you make it to the other side. Want to speak with one of our friendly account coordinators? Schedule a free 15-minute call.

Divorce Content Specialist
Communication, Mediation, Relationships, Divorce Insights
A content writer and editor for several digital publications and businesses, including Make Tech Easier, How-To Geek, and Clean Email.