If you’re considering divorce, or have already started the process, it’s easy to become obsessed and overwhelmed by all the “what-ifs” and “what abouts.” While this is a common and natural response to such a major life decision, the health consequences of divorce are real. It is vitally important that you step back, take some time for yourself, and focus on trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Try to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle During Divorce
It’s important to pay attention to your mind and body during and after a divorce. Divorce can take a serious toll on everything from sleep habits to your heart. Physical ailments may include:
- Anxiety. Many people feel anxious about the uncertainty created by a divorce. Others are concerned about learning to face the world without a partner, and may have difficulty adjusting to their new single life, which can be a source of stress.
- Weight change. Some people lose weight because the stress of divorce causes them to lose their appetite. Others gain weight as they turn to doughnuts, fried chicken, and alcohol for stress relief.
- Metabolic syndrome. If you are facing several dangerous health conditions at the same time, you might be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. For example, you could be suffering from some combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat, and high cholesterol all at once. Left unchecked, metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- Depression. Some people feel like a failure during and after their divorce. In some cases, the underlying factors that contributed to the divorce may play a role. For example, a cheating spouse can negatively affect your self-confidence. In situations like this, it’s helpful to seek the assistance of a therapist, and gain support from someone who is not emotionally invested in the situation. This is also an opportunity to discover what went wrong in the relationship, and learn how to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Leading up to and during a divorce, it’s important that you take care of your mental health by strengthening relationships with friends and family. You might also consider meeting with a therapist who can help you work through rough times, especially when you are facing the complications of divorce.
While the short-term consequences of divorce are well-known, new studies show that divorce can have long-term health consequences for years, and even decades after a divorce.
Long-Term Consequences of Divorce
When compared to people who have never been divorced, divorced people are:
- 20% more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or another chronic condition, and
- 23% more likely to have mobility problems, such as difficulty climbing stairs or walking short distances
Researchers attribute increased rates of cardio-vascular and other chronic diseases to the long-term stress that occurs before, during, and after a divorce. Unfortunately, once the stress of the divorce goes away, the acceleration of adverse health consequences may continue because your body has been re-programmed.
People going through a divorce face increased mortality rates due cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, suicide, substance abuse, and even cancer. During times of stress, it’s easy to turn to alcohol, cigarettes, and other high-risk behaviors in attempts to cope with problems. It’s also easy to lose the motivation to eat right, exercise, and generally take care of yourself.
Divorce can also lead to unhealthy lifestyles that can negatively impact health. An Ohio State University study showed that two years after a divorce partners tended to be heavier when compared to couples who remained married. Harvard Medical School points out that divorced men are less likely to eat as well as married men.
Research suggests that marriage may have protective benefits by providing financial, social, and emotional stability. However, the health benefits of marriage do not extend to people in troubled relationships. The troubled relationships that often lead to divorce can leave a person worse off than if they had never married at all. One study showed that a stressful marriage can be just as bad as a regular smoking habit. But just as divorce has been shown to negatively impact health, research shows that staying in a bad relationship can lead to depression, metabolic syndrome, low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, obesity, and elevated blood sugar – all of which can be precursors to heart attack.
While it is true that divorce can have negative health consequences, it’s important to recognize that staying in an unhealthy relationship can also lead to health problems. For people in highly stressful marriages, and certainly in marriages where physical or mental abuse is present, divorce can, overall, be better for your health.
Questions About Divorce? Contact The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher Today
If you’re considering ending your marriage but aren’t sure or have questions,contact a central-Florida attorney at the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher to schedule a consultation. We’re here to answer your questions, and help you decide if divorce is right for you. Call us at (352) 503-4111, email, or complete our online information form.