Time heals all wounds, but how long does it take to recover from a serious emotional trauma?
Experts say most people should give themselves a good two years to recover from a job, divorce, or other major life stressor, according to a surprising new report in The Wall Street Journal. It may take even longer if the event was unexpected — such as a firing or the sudden death or divorce of a spouse.
That’s more time than most people would think, says Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago and former president of the American Psychoanalytic Association. The reason: Once you get over the initial shock of the change, there is usually a period of "identity crisis process" during which it is normal to feel depressed, anxious, and distracted.
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Some people may find they need less than two years to bounce back. But experts say it can be a comfort to realize that the process can take a while.
"You don't have to feel pressure to be OK, because you're not OK," says Dr. Gourguechon.
The time is needed to rethink one's living situation, finances, personal and professional goals, and self concept.
"People start thinking they are crazy because the things they usually do to right their ship — things like talking to their mother, asking their friends for help, getting some sleep — don't work anymore," says Ilene Dillon, a licensed clinical social worker in Kentfield, Calif. "And you have all these emotions that won't seem to stop."