Divorce will bring about traumatic events that leave us scarred in the same way as a person who has survived combat. In fact, most divorces share similar types of combat, war, and traumatic events and end up the same way… with a loss.

Symptoms are classified into three broad categories. As you look at these, think about how they may relate to the trauma of a long-term, emotionally abusive relationship or terrible, lengthy divorce:

  1. Re-experiencing symptoms
  2. Avoidance symptoms
  3. Hyper-arousal symptoms

Within these categories are:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Depression
  • Emotional numbness
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Sudden, emotional outbursts of crying or rage

In a true, textbook diagnosis of PTSD, these symptoms must last longer than one month, during which time you must have at least:

  • One re-experiencing symptom
  • three avoidance symptoms
  • two hyper-arousal symptoms

Treatments for PTSD include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication

Experts believe that break-ups are taking a worrying toll on our health with symptoms such as panic attacks, insomnia and many psychosomatic health problems and are calling this condition "divorce stress syndrome".

Michigan State University has recently published research findings from a 15 year study which reveals that those who divorce experience a more rapid decline in their health than those who remain married. Other studies suggest that men suffer more long-term health problem if they do not remarry, whilst women are inclined to suffer more seriously in the short-term.

Experts say that it is important for women to accept that they may go through a difficult transitional stage. Some feel that newly-divorced people go through the same stages of readjustment as those who are coming to terms with bereavement. Feelings of denial, depression, anger and acceptance are common but it is important to seek help if the feelings become overwhelming.

The worries which bombard people who are faced with life without their partner vary dependent on the age of the individual. For those with young children their concerns often center on raising their family alone along with natural feelings of rejection and failure. For older people it can be the prospect of growing old on their own and feelings of resentment having given the ‘best years of their lives’. Financial worries tend to fill the minds of most people facing life without their partner, especially those with young children.

It would appear that in America the attitude towards the stress suffered through divorce seems to be one of far better understanding and acceptance. High-conflict divorce is seen to be so stressful that it has been reclassified as one of the causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Women are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD under this circumstance having symptoms which include flashbacks, heightened anxiety, insomnia and psychosomatic illness.

In summary, what may seem like lack of effort, in reality may be a disguise for the reactions associated with PTSD. The good news is that a problem like that can be successfully navigated through. If you believe yourself to be dating a very good person who would be very compatible with you then have a heart to heart about what you are struggling with and what you think he or she may be struggling with. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, you can recognize the discord for what it really is… a reaction to trauma. If you then can commit to the willingness to stay with the relationship then you will find yourself getting to the other side of trauma… communication can become what you hoped it would be, you can sustain a closeness, and eventually have that relationship you had longed for.