Is it possible to suffer PTSD as a result of a divorce? Maybe. There’s no question we have represented clients who have suffered emotionally as a result of their divorce case, and some have gone on to receive a PTSD diagnosis. The reality is that a divorce or custody case can be the most traumatic event of an individuals life. This isn’t a topic that often gets discussed, but lawyers practicing in the area of high-conflict divorce should be cognizant of the emotional impact a high-conflict divorce or custody case can have on the client. What is PTSD though, and what can be done to protect yourself when you find yourself in a high-conflict divorce case?
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a mental health condition that can develop in some individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD can occur after a single traumatic event or a series of traumatic experiences.
The symptoms of PTSD can vary in intensity and duration and typically fall into four main categories:
It’s important to note that experiencing a traumatic event does not automatically mean a person will develop PTSD. The development of PTSD can be influenced by various factors, such as the severity and duration of the trauma, the person’s proximity to the event, their personal resilience, and available support systems. Within the context of a divorce, the emotional impact may depend on various factors.
Divorce can be a highly stressful and emotionally challenging life event that can potentially contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some individuals. While divorce itself is not listed as a specific cause of PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the traumatic nature of the divorce process and the events surrounding it can trigger or exacerbate symptoms of PTSD.
Factors that can contribute to the traumatic nature of a divorce and potentially increase the likelihood of developing PTSD symptoms include:
While not everyone who goes through a divorce will develop PTSD, some individuals may experience symptoms resembling those of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, emotional distress, sleep disturbances, avoidance behaviors, and difficulties in personal relationships. It’s important to seek support from mental health professionals, such as therapists or counselors, who can provide guidance, coping strategies, and appropriate treatment if needed.
The Smith Firm recommends a number of steps to help navigate the emotional toll of divorce, however, acute cases may require medical intervention early in the case. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, or struggling with the emotional impact of divorce, it is recommended to seek professional help. Mental health professionals, such as therapists or psychologists, can provide a diagnosis, offer appropriate treatment options, and support individuals in managing their symptoms and improving their quality of life.