“Don’t go through the breakdown of a relationship on your own.”

Ashamed, sad, and alone – this is how many men feel after a divorce, separation, or tough breakup. It can be one of the most stressful life events we ever deal with (especially when children are involved).

A lot a guys unfairly internalize the breakdown of a relationship as a sign of weakness or a failure on their part. So it’s no wonder studies have found an increased risk for depression and suicide after divorce. In one study, men were found to have a 6-fold increase in risk for depression after a divorce, than men who remained married. [1]

For some guys, his partner (and kids) are the main social connections he has, so separating can also mean losing your main source of support. Whether you’ve dealt with depression before or not, it’s a crucial time to prioritize your mental health and avoid some of the pitfalls guys get stuck in.

Here are some tips to help you move forward: 

1. Give yourself time to work through the loss, and accept what you cannot control

  • Any separation is rough – it’s okay to be upset. If you deny how you’re feeling, your emotions won’t disappear. Instead, they’re more likely to come out in other less helpful ways, like anger or hostility.
  • Don’t continue to fight with an ex, especially when children are involved – it will only make things harder and more confusing for them and yourself.
  • There’s no rush to get into a new relationship, so take your time to sort things out.

2. Don’t try to drown out your sorrows

  • Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is never a good idea – it will only create bigger problems down the road.

3. Talk to at least one person about how you are doing

4. Keep up with healthy habits and routines

  • After a breakup, your routine and schedule will likely change – you may be living in a new place, or have to get used to taking over household chores that your partner handled. If you need help with chores, you could ask a friend for help.
  • It’s important to keep focused on the basics of good health to give yourself a strong foundation – this means eating healthy, staying physically active, and getting quality sleep.
  • It’s also important to keep up with regular doctor visits or health appointments, often it’s a partner who urges a man to get things checked or see their doctor for tests.
  • As time goes on, you’ll better adapt to new schedules and routines.

5. Stay connected to friends and family

  • Keep yourself surrounded by friends and family. The urge to isolate yourself will only make depression worse.
  • Though it may feel awkward or you may be embarrassed to not have your partner with you, keep getting out to see familiar faces.
  • The people who care about you will still want to see you, get tips on staying connected.

6. Recognize your value and move forward

  • Don’t stay stuck in the past, explore other interests, find new hobbies, and make new connections.
  • The ending of a relationship can take a heavy toll on a guy’s self esteem. Remember that you still have something to offer and that if/when you want to, there will be other people who recognize this, and want to get to know you.

1. Depression risk higher for divorced men: Statistics Canada | CBC News 

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