Divorce is listed as one of the most stressful life events that could happen to a person. It’s in the same class as having a loved one die. It makes sense, right? Your spouse is no longer a part of your life. This might make you wonder, though, because divorce is such a stressful life event, can it impact your health?
When a person goes through a divorce, they might experience feelings such as anxiety, depression, anger and being overwhelmed. All these feelings lead to stress on the body. Stress affects a person’s health. From high blood pressure to insomnia and even headaches. When a person is under stress your brain signals for your body to send out stress hormones. This is what triggers your flight or fight response. When this happens, your heart begins to race, your hands might feel clammy from sweat, and your body might feel tense. During a divorce, stress hormones might be released on a daily basis. From dealing with an angry ex, or lawyers, or even by trying to protect your children, stress can really take a toll on a person’s health.
Here are some ways in which divorce affects your health.
Depression is an intense feeling of sadness, helplessness, and anxiety. You might cry all the time, or feel sad most days. Divorce can trigger depression, which affects a person’s emotional health. When a person is depressed they might eat more or eat less, which also affects a person’s health. When you are not eating nutritious food, your body does not have the vitamins and minerals it needs to cope with stress.
Depression is a serious illness that should not be taken lightly. If you are struggling with depression, make an appointment with a psychologist or a psychiatrist. There are many ways in which a therapist can help you cope with feelings of depression. This could be from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to counselling, and in some cases, antidepressants can really make a difference in a person’s life.
Many of those who go through divorce suffer from anxiety. Anxiety can wreak havoc on a person’s body and health. You might be worried about how you will cope after your divorce, or how you will look after yourself financially. You might also worry about how your children will fare with your divorce. Or if you don’t have custody over your kids, you could worry about missing them.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Some people might suffer from high blood pressure naturally, but when you throw in stressful life events such as divorce, your chances of suffering from severe health issues increases greatly. Things such as worrying about finances, your children, alimony and the marital home, could all lead to an increase in high blood pressure. One study showed that a lack of sleep also increases a person’s blood pressure in the long run.
Many people struggle to sleep when they are stressed. When you are going through a divorce, obsessive thoughts might keep you awake at night. You could be thinking about what went wrong in your marriage, you might not be able to sleep because you miss your ex, or you might even have thoughts of how to get revenge. All of this can keep you up at night. When we don’t get the right amount of sleep, our immune system is weakened. This can lead to more colds and flus, and even tummy bugs.
On average a person needs between 6 and 9 hours of good sleep to function properly. When you don’t sleep well, you might also struggle to concentrate, which could affect your work or even the way you drive. Insomnia has also been linked to a shorter life expectancy. If you are struggling to sleep, try to make an appointment with your doctor to find a way to help you sleep. They could prescribe natural remedies or even chemical medication that will help you.
In some cases, divorced people are more likely to participate in reckless behavior. This can range from smoking to abusing alcohol and even having multiple sexual partners. We all know how all of the above is bad for a person’s health.
Engaging in illicit sex with many partners could lead to contracting HIV or other STDs. Smoking can lead to lung and throat cancer, and drinking heavily is bad for a person’s liver and kidneys. People self medicate for many reasons; They might drink alcohol or take drugs to numb the emotional pain. If you are struggling with bad habits after your divorce, that could be impacting your health, seek help from a professional. A therapist can help you find healthy ways to cope with the turmoil you might be feeling after a divorce.
Excessive weight gain and even weight loss can be bad for your health. A person might be more inclined to “comfort eat” after a divorce. Oftentimes these meals are not healthy choices, which can also affect things such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Undereating is also bad for your health, this can lead to a weak immune system, fatigue, and even mental illness because of lack of nutrients for your body.
What are some statistics regarding divorce and health?
- Divorced men have a higher chance of suffering from heart disease
- The mortality rate for divorced men is 250% higher than that of married men.
- Divorced men suffer from more heart attacks and strokes than their married counterparts
- Women who are divorced have been shown to have a 24% increase in heart attacks than married women.
- Men are more likely to suffer from substance abuse than women after a divorce.
As you can see divorce can really impact a person’s health. But it’s not all doom and gloom. If you were in an abusive marriage, a divorce might be your saving grace, and ending things with your ex could actually be good for your emotional and physical health. There is nothing better than a happy marriage, but at the same time, there is nothing worse than a bad marriage. Always remember to look after yourself emotionally and physically after a divorce, to keep your health in good shape.