Divorce May Affect Your Health

Unhappy marriages are challenging and for some people, divorce is a pathway to a better, happier and healthier life. But, that is not always the case. A study recently published in the Journal of Men’s Health (JMH) confirms that divorced people, both men and women, suffer higher rates of mortality, depression, illness in general and substance abuse than do married people.

Although the JMH report focuses on men, other studies confirm that both parties suffer from detrimental health issues more often than those who maintain a happy marriage. Here are a few of the more common physical and emotional health problems experienced by divorced people:

  • Due to a weakened immune system, divorced men and women get more colds and flus.
  • Divorced men have significantly higher incidences of cancer and heart disease.
  • Both divorced men and women experience extreme changes in their weight.
  • The mortality rate for divorced men is nearly 250 percent greater than with married men.
  • Divorced men suffer more heart attacks and strokes than non-divorced men.
  • Both men and women who are divorced suffer higher depression rates than married ones.
  • divorced or separated men receive psychiatric care at a rate 10 times the rate of married men.

Going through a divorce is a stressful situation. The body physically reacts to chronic stress by releasing the hormone cortisol, which adversely affects all bodily systems, including heart rate and blood pressure. This leads to a multitude of physical problems.  Also, divorced people report more problems with sleep as well as more digestive problems, both of which can be caused by the high levels of cortisol.

Some health problems are exacerbated by the lower standard of living and economic hardship divorced people experience. They often have lost some friends, so they do not have the same emotional support they had before the divorce.

The JMH study made some suggestions for future research. One suggestion is that studies need to analyze what types of circumstances may have a positive influence on a divorced person’s health so that it actually improves after a divorce.