Divorce and Mental Health in Washington State

Understand the relationship between divorce and mental health in Washington state. How one impacts the other and what we can do to mitigate the problem.

Divorce and mental health—it is a two-way street. Living with a spouse with a mental health issue can be draining. Over time, it can put a strain on the relationship and lead to marital problems, relationship anxiety, and, consequently, the dissolution of marriage. Also, divorce is a serious event with a lot of implications. Life as you know it ends. You have to start over. Everything changes, from dealing with everyday tasks to making long-term plans. If children are involved, things get even more complicated. It is not surprising that divorce can have a considerable impact on mental health. We Level Up Washington explores the link between mental health and divorce in Washington State and offers valuable insights.

Mental health and divorce statistics in Washington State

There is an undeniable connection between mental illness and divorce. Understanding this link helps us understand marital dynamics, especially when considering the broader impact on society. According to the latest data available, the divorce rate in Washington State is 2.9%. However, there is no information to indicate how many divorces were the result of one spouse’s mental health issues. What is clear is that divorce is a common cause of mental health troubles later.

Divorce and mental health banner

Washington State ranks 30th in the overall prevalence of mental illness. It also ranks 13th in terms of access to mental health care. This means that there is a moderate prevalence of mental health issues but better access to care compared to other states. We Level Up WA is happy to be able to contribute to this relatively positive statistic. Anyone searching for mental health hospitals near me in their browsers will find help. We at We Level Up Washington stand ready to help you and your partner beat the odds. However, we are also aware that more needs to be done.

Mental health issues and divorce likelihood

A comprehensive multinational study conducted in 2011 revealed the significant effect of mental disorders on marital outcomes. It found that 18 different mental disorders could increase the likelihood of divorce by 20% to 80%. Among these disorders, the following were identified as significant factors contributing to marital breakdowns:

  • addiction
  • major depression
  • PTSD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the United States lives with a mental illness. Evidently, addressing mental health issues is not only critical for the well-being of individuals but also for the stability of marriages.

Mental health and divorce correlation

Mental health can significantly impact a person’s marital status. It can affect both the likelihood of getting married and the chances of staying married.

Studies have found that people who have suffered from mental health conditions before marriage or who have developed them after getting married are more likely to get a divorce compared to those without such conditions. Also, if someone develops a mental health condition after they get married, there’s a smaller chance they’ll get married again if they’re currently single.

A close up photo of hands of a man and woman holding each other with a wedding ring on the woman's hand representing divorce and mental health
There is a strong, two-way link between divorce and mental health.

Divorce due to mental illness

The studies suggest that if we could reduce the impact of common mental health conditions like mood disorders, anxiety, and substance abuse, the United States could see around 6.7 million fewer divorces and 3.5 million more marriages over 11 years.

Mental health and marriage likelihood

The 2011 multinational study also looked at how mental health conditions before marriage affect the chances of someone getting married at all. It found that 14 out of 18 studied mental health conditions could make it less likely for a person to ever marry.

However, this effect varies with the age at which someone marries. For those marrying very young (17 or younger), mental health conditions don’t seem to impact the likelihood of getting married as much. But for marriages at older ages, the negative effects of premarital mental health conditions on the likelihood of marriage are more apparent.

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Common mental health issues and divorce

All 18 mental health conditions studied during the 2011 research were found to increase the likelihood of divorce. The ones with the most significant impact are:

  • phobia
  • major depression
  • alcohol abuse

These conditions make divorce more likely and affect whether people get married in the first place.

Mental health issues in Washington

The three prevalent mental health issues that could potentially lead to divorce due to mental illness are:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Depressive disorders
  3. Substance abuse

From February 1 to 13, 2023, 32.6% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorders. This number reflects the national average of 32.3%.

Alarmingly, the state has seen a concerning increase in drug overdose death rates. It jumped from 14.1 per 100,000 in 2011 to 28.1 per 100,000 in 2021. This surpasses the national increase from 13.2 to 32.4 per 100,000 over the same period. Furthermore, Washington’s age-adjusted suicide rate exceeded the national level in 2021.

A couple during therapy arguing because of mental health and divorce
Many people who need mental health don’t receive it, which contributes to mental health and divorce statistics.

The huge problem is that the state struggles to meet the mental health needs of its population. Only 16.2% of those who sought professional help received it, which is not a good number compared to the national average of 27.7%. In May 2022, 34.4% of Washington adults who experienced symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorders reported an unmet need for counseling or therapy in the past four weeks, higher than the national average of 28.2%.

This really puts the state’s 13th position in terms of accessibility to mental health treatment in perspective. While it does better than most other states, there is significant room for improvement. We Level Up Washington recognizes this.

It’s important to note that these disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. However, certain conditions may be more common in men than in women, and vice versa. For instance, depression and anxiety disorders are typically more commonly diagnosed in women, while men are more likely to be diagnosed with substance use disorders.

Navigating the complicated link between divorce and mental health issues in Washington State demands that we understand the following factors:

  1. Cultural
  2. Economic
  3. Legal

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Cultural factors impacting mental illness and divorce

Cultural diversity shapes attitudes toward mental health and divorce. Of course, there have been efforts to reduce stigma. However, cultural norms may still contribute to feelings of shame surrounding seeking help or ending a marriage.

Family and community support vary based on cultural expectations. Some people may feel pressure to maintain marital harmony or conceal mental health issues. Religious beliefs also influence perceptions. Some communities discourage divorce as well as seeking professional help.

Mental health services available in Washington State must be aware of all these cultural nuances. Only then can they offer support and help to clients of different backgrounds. Also, that is the best way to foster understanding and acceptance.

An upset couple during therapy considering divorce due to mental illness
Divorcing someone with mental illness is not that uncommon.

Economic factors impacting mental illness and divorce

Economic considerations also significantly impact mental health and divorce dynamics. Some economic factors to consider are:

  • Financial stress caused by economic instability, unemployment, and financial strain. It can aggravate mental health issues and contribute to marital conflict. Couples experiencing financial difficulties may experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can strain the relationship and increase the likelihood of divorce.
  • Income level and insurance coverage can impact access to mental health services, including therapy, counseling, and medication management. This can lead to poor management of mental health issues, which may cause conflicts and divorce.
  • The high cost of housing in many parts of Washington State can add to financial stress and instability. This may force couples to prioritize financial concerns over their mental health needs, delaying or forgoing treatment, which can further strain the relationship.
  • Employers that offer comprehensive mental health benefits, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs) and counseling services, can help couples access the support they need and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Childcare and parenting expenses can strain finances and exacerbate marital tensions. Economic challenges related to childcare costs, school fees, and extracurricular activities may increase stress levels and contribute to conflicts within the marriage.
  • Divorce due to mental illness leads to additional financial costs associated with divorce proceedings, including legal fees, mediation expenses, and court costs, which can create additional stress. Economic disparities between spouses may complicate divorce negotiations, impacting decisions related to asset division, spousal support, and child custody arrangements.

When divorcing someone with a mental illness, several legal factors come into play. First, it is essential to determine if the spouse suffering from a mental health issue is capable of participating in the divorce proceedings. If they are deemed incapacitated or unable to make decisions independently, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or advocate to represent their interests.

Mental illness may also impact various aspects of the divorce settlement. It includes:

  • Asset division
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody arrangements

The court will have to assess the spouse’s mental health condition and how it impacts their ability to contribute to the marital estate and fulfill parental responsibilities. The court’s decisions regarding custody arrangements and financial support may depend on the following factors:

  • The severity of the mental illness
  • Treatment history
  • Prognosis
A hand placing a wedding ring on a glass table
There are many legal considerations when divorcing someone with mental illness.

The court may also require the spouse with mental illness to continue treatment or participate in counseling as part of the divorce agreement. In this case, it may be necessary to address healthcare coverage and insurance, too.

Finally, Washington State law, like any other state law, must prioritize the best interests of children involved in the divorce process. If one parent has a mental illness, the court will consider how this condition may impact their ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the children. So, custody arrangements may be modified to ensure the children’s well-being. It may include supervised visitation or restrictions, depending on the parent’s mental health status.

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How specific issues lead to divorce due to mental illness

Let’s see how and why different issues lead to divorce. We’ll examine he following:

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)
  • Trauma bonding
  • Alcoholism
  • Anxiety and depression

Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

Living with a spouse with mental illness such as Antisocial Personality Disorder can bring many challenges. Your spouse may often show disregard for other people’s rights or violate their rights. This, naturally, causes difficulties and conflicts within your relationship. Their lack of empathy, impulsivity, and manipulative behavior can harm trust and intimacy. Under such circumstances, maintaining a healthy marriage is almost impossible. If your partner suffers from ASPD, they may struggle to cope with the emotional and behavioral volatility, which ultimately leads to marital breakdown and divorce.

When it comes to mental health and divorce, things are not black and white, and decisions cannot and should not be made hastily. It is always best to try and find help before making any permanent cuts. In this case, antisocial personality disorder family therapy can help bring you and your spouse together again.

Mental health and divorce due to trauma bonding

When you develop a strong emotional attachment to an abusive partner, this is called trauma bonding. It often occurs despite experiencing harm or mistreatment. In these relationships, the cycle of abuse can create a sense of dependency and attachment. This makes it difficult for victims to leave the relationship. The psychological effects of trauma bonding can undermine your self-esteem and autonomy, which is the leading cause of the cycle of abuse.

However, although this can last for a long time, this situation eventually contributes to the end of marriage. When you live with a spouse with mental illness divorce may be inevitable. In this case, deciding to break free from the toxic dynamics is the healthiest choice you can make for yourself.

Alcoholism, divorce and mental health

Alcoholism implies compulsive alcohol consumption and dependence, and it can have devastating effects on marriage and family life. Excessive drinking can lead to:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Erratic behavior
  • Interpersonal conflicts

If you are married to an alcoholic, you may experience emotional distress, financial instability, and concerns for your safety and well-being. Despite your efforts to support your spouse, the impact of alcoholism on your marriage may become unsustainable. Ultimately, divorce may be the only solution.

A couple sitting on a couch, the man is looking away from the woman, considering divorce due to mental illness
Alcoholism and other issues can puta a strain on the relationship and lead to divorce.

Mental health and divorce due to anxiety and depression

As we have already established, anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions. In addition to taking a toll on the quality of life of the person struggling with them, they can also significantly affect marital relationships.

If your spouse suffers from a mental illness like severe anxiety, they may struggle with excessive worry, fear, and insecurity. This can cause difficulties in communication and emotional intimacy.

Depression can also create barriers to connection and engagement with your spouse. Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest can feel like insurmountable obstacles. The strain of managing these mental health issues may cause conflicts. Over time, it can get increasingly difficult to find effective coping strategies, and then divorcing someone with mental illness becomes your only choice.

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Depression during pregnancy and divorce

We have all heard of the devastating effects of post-partum depression. However, depression during pregnancy is also possible and can significantly impact both the expectant mother and her partner.

The hormonal changes and emotional turmoil experienced during pregnancy can exacerbate feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety. This can make it difficult to cope with the demands of pregnancy and upcoming parenthood. That may result in decreased communication, emotional distance, and reduced intimacy between partners.

A couple kissing
Depression can lead to intimacy issues and emotional distance.

The other spouse may also experience feelings of stress, helplessness, and frustration as they witness their pregnant partner’s struggles and try to provide support. This strain of managing depression during pregnancy can create tension, which may cause feelings of resentment and deep dissatisfaction.

If this situation is not addressed proactively, divorce due to mental illness may be inevitable.

The impact of divorce on mental health

Divorce can have a tremendous impact on mental health and it can affect former spouses in different ways:

  • Emotionally
  • Psychologically
  • Physically

The end of a marriage often brings feelings of grief, loss, and uncertainty. Those feelings lead to heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. If you have gone through a divorce due to mental illness, you may also struggle with some mental health problems. You may experience a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, and loneliness, as you get used to the new reality of your life and singlehood.

Divorce can also disrupt social support networks and interpersonal relationships. You may feel isolated and disconnected from others. Also, the financial and practical challenges associated with divorce can cause stress and anxiety.

Long-term effects of divorce on mental health may include:

  • Increased risk of depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Other mental health disorders

If you are going through the aftermath of divorcing someone with mental illness, you must find adequate support for yourself. Ask for help from friends, family, and mental health professionals.

How to avoid divorce due to mental illness

Before you become a part of the divorce and mental health statistics, there are a few ways to try and deal with the difficult situation effectively. Here are some options:

  1. Good communication
  2. Professional help
  3. Coping strategies

Communicate effectively with your spouse with mental illness

Supporting a loved one with a mental illness can and, sometimes, will be difficult. There is no doubt about that. The link between divorce and mental health is strong, so, at times, you might even start thinking about ending the marriage. However, effective communication can help.

Open communication means:

  • Active listening, which goes beyond just hearing the words, implies understanding the emotions and thoughts behind them
  • Showing empathy and attempting to put yourself in your partner’s shoes
  • Providing reassurance, encouraging your spouse to express themselves, and validating their feeling

When discussing mental health, it’s important to choose a time when both of you are calm and to use language that is supportive, not accusatory.

A depressed man sitting across his therapist
When it comes to the issue of divorce and mental health, getting professional help is the best option.

Seek professional help

If you don’t want to become another number in the divorce and mental health count, seeking professional help is necessary. It can provide both you and your spouse with the necessary tools and strategies to better understand and manage mental health challenges.

Therapy can provide the tools and strategies to manage symptoms and improve communication. It’s also important for you, as the partner, to seek support to navigate your own emotions and challenges.

At We Level Up, we emphasize the significance of professional intervention. Our facilities and programs are designed to support people with mental health conditions as well as their partners.

Therapy options in Washington State

Families dealing with mental health challenges have access to a variety of therapy options in Washington State. Most importantly, they have access to personalized treatment. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to mental health. Every person is unique, and everyone needs a different approach or a combination of approaches.

At We Level Up WA, our focus is on offering comprehensive care that addresses both the individual and their family dynamics. We believe that such a holistic approach is the only way to a successful recovery.

In our Spokane WA center, we offer:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – effective in treating depression, anxiety, and other disorders
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy – useful for managing emotions and reducing self-harm behaviors
  • Group therapy – provides a supportive environment to share experiences and learn from others
  • Family therapy – essential when the dynamics within the family contribute to or are affected by the individual’s mental health
  • Dual diagnosis treatment in Spokane WA – suitable for those struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse at the same time

Inpatient treatment in Washington State

Sometimes, the best course of action for you and your spouse with a mental issue is for them to receive treatment in a mental health facility. We Level Up WA has inpatient mental health facilities in Washington State where your spouse can receive tailored care suited to their specific conditions. With comprehensive treatment plans, we offer hope and support to you and your spouse with mental illness. We want you to beat the divorce and mental health statistics. We create a therapeutic environment that fosters healing, understanding, and growth.

Learn coping strategies

When supporting a partner with mental illness, it’s easy to forget about ourselves and focus solely on their wellbeing. However, in these situations, self-care is essential. Otherwise, you will experience burnout, and the divorce and mental health duo will win.

Engaging in self-care routines has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety and depression, manage stress, and enhance overall happiness. It equips you with tools to handle the ups and downs associated with supporting a loved one with mental health issues.

A woman lying on a bed and relaxing
Taking care of yourself while supporting your spouse with a mental issue is a must.

Key aspects of self-care include:

  • Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate rest. Physical activity improves mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Stress management techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness can effectively manage stress.
  • Acknowledging and addressing spiritual and emotional needs through journaling, engaging in hobbies, or spiritual practices.
  • Maintaining and nurturing relationships outside of your marriage is crucial. You must have a support network for yourself.
  • Striving for a balance between work, leisure, and family responsibilities can help maintain your overall well-being.

How to find a balance between supporting your spouse and personal well-being

Living with a partner with mental illness is not easy. You have to learn how to balance between providing support and maintaining your own well-being. Prioritizing your well-being isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for sustaining the support you offer.

To achieve this balance, you must:

  • Set boundaries and limits on what you can and cannot do. It’s okay to say no to certain requests to preserve your mental health.
  • Join support groups or seek therapy for yourself. It can provide a safe space to express your feelings and gain insights.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family. Social support is crucial for emotional resilience.

Beating divorce mental illness statistics together

Living with a spouse with mental illness brings many challenges, but it also opens doors to profound understanding and connection. It’s about more than enduring difficulties; it’s about growing together. The relationship between divorce and mental health is real, but if you work on the problem, it can strengthen the bonds of marriage. Good communication, unwavering support, compassion, and dedication, all with the help of professionals, can help you build a strong foundation for a lasting marriage. As a couple, you can prevail and emerge more resilient, united by a shared experience that has enriched your relationship.

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Mojtabai, Ramin, et al. “Long-Term Effects of Mental Disorders on Marital Outcomes in the National Comorbidity Survey Ten-Year Follow-Up.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 52, no. 10, 4 Apr. 2017, pp. 1217–1226, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846331/, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-017-1373-1.

RICHARDS, M., et al. “The Effects of Divorce and Separation on Mental Health in a National UK Birth Cohort.” Psychological Medicine, vol. 27, no. 5, Sept. 1997, pp. 1121–1128, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9300516/, www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/effects-of-divorce-and-separation-on-mental-health-in-a-national-uk-birth-cohort/0E5ACBCC208189F7105935BA9E5686D5, https://doi.org/10.1017/s003329179700559x.

Breslau, J., et al. “A Multinational Study of Mental Disorders, Marriage, and Divorce.” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, vol. 124, no. 6, 30 Apr. 2011, pp. 474–486, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011132/, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01712.x.

National Institute of Mental Health. “Mental Illness.” National Institute of Mental Health, Mar. 2023, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.

Idstad, Mariann, et al. “Mental Distress Predicts Divorce over 16 Years: The HUNT Study.” BMC Public Health, vol. 15, no. 1, 1 Apr. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394420/, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-1662-0.

“Mental Health and Substance Use State Fact Sheets.” KFF, KFF, 13 Dec. 2021, www.kff.org/statedata/mental-health-and-substance-use-state-fact-sheets/washington/.

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