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Depression After a Husband's Betrayal

by Sharon O'Neil

Few things sting worse in life than a betrayal by the very one who took vows to always be true. Infidelity can rock even the best marriage and send the betrayed spouse into a painful depression. Signs of depression include feeling sad, hopeless and worthless. Sufferers may lose interest in activities, have less energy or even have suicidal thoughts. Women who suffer a humiliating marital event such as a husband's infidelity are six times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode than other married women, according to a study by researchers at State University of New York, published in the "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology" in 2000. Fortunately, you can overcome the depression in healthy ways.

Practice Self-Care

After learning about your husband's betrayal, take some time to heal. Give yourself permission to scale back from some of your responsibilities and get some rest. Ongoing stress can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness, so be sure to eat healthy. Deal with your anger in a positive way through exercise or meditation. Try not to think negative thoughts or blame yourself for your husband's actions.

Strengthen Your Support Network

To help heal from your husband's betrayal, you need support from close friends and family members. Talk about your feelings with someone who will listen and not cast judgment. Surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests in mind. Consider also speaking with a neutral third party such as a counselor or therapist.

Set Emotional Boundaries

Setting emotional boundaries protects you from enduring additional, unnecessary pain. If your husband is continuing the affair and doesn't want to work on the marriage, don't torture yourself by stalking his social media page or following him to see if he’s meeting his girlfriend. While addressing the "other woman" may feel good at first, it can stir up more problems. Remember your emotions are very vulnerable after a betrayal. Avoid getting caught up in another relationship while you are in so much pain.

Adopt a Forgiving Attitude

It's far easier said than done, but letting go of bitterness and anger is a positive step toward recovering from a betrayal. Realize that we are all human and no one is perfect. Forgiveness may be easier if your husband is remorseful and wants to save the marriage. Even when reconciliation isn't likely, working toward accepting the past can help you get past the depression and move forward with the future. Clinical psychologist Ryan Howes explains that successful attempts to forgive have four elements: expressing emotion, understanding why, rebuilding safety and letting go.

Seek Professional Help When Necessary

Seek professional help if your depression lingers or makes it difficult for you to function. The most common treatments for depression are psychotherapy and medication. Interpersonal therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people with troubled relationships and would allow you to work through your feelings from your husband's betrayal. When therapy isn't enough, a mental health professional may prescribe medication to help regulate brain chemicals and improve your mood. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

About the Author

Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.

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