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Loss of spouse via divorce increases health risks

Posted Dec 03 2009 2:32pm

Life events, both good and bad, cause stress.  Divorce is ranked near the top of life events in terms of creating stress as well as possible emotional and physical problems.  Only death of a spouse or child rates as high or higher in terms of a life event score.  Nevertheless, with the high overall divorce rate in the United States, we have come to believe that divorce is just “one of those things” and people just move on with their lives.  That seems to not be the case.  As most of us know by personal experience, either our own or that of our close family and friends, divorce is not “just one of those things”.  It rips apart a relationship that was supposed to last and exposes major problems in terms of fiances, emotional security and physical well being. Children often suffer greatly and much has been written about the negative effects of divorce on children.  Now a new study sheds more light on the negative health consequences of divorce for the most affected parties, the spouses.  It seems that regardless of final outcome, even remarriage, divorced men and women both suffer greater declines in overall health status.  These health woes include  high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.  Also, limitations on physical mobility as well as social isolation seem to increase overall in the divorced.  While no specific etiology is proposed, one must assume that the mental, emotional and physical effects of divorce have a significant impact on the immune system, which no doubt makes divorced men and women more susceptible to the development of illness.  Changes in eating habits with subsequent loss or gain of weight, as well as altered sleep, are also likely intertwined in the development of this increase in illness. While simply urging couples to stay married may be naive, this study makes a potent case for urging those in troubled marriages to seek all possible avenues to resolve their differences and marital issues and stay together.  Often, one partner will not give professional intervention a meaningful opportunity to work, or they simply “go through the motions” without any emotional investment in the outcome of counseling or marriage interventions.  We may have to live with divorce and its fallout, but we should all be mindful of the negative effects that divorce carries, not only for the family and children, but for the physical well being of the spouses . . .

Health problems from the stresses of divorce or a partner’s death persist even after remarriage, a study found.  Divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health problems such as diabetes and cancer than married people, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social behavior. People who remarry suffer 12 percent more of these conditions than those continuously married.

Divorce Heartbreak Has Lasting Health Consequences, Study Says –

Yes, according to a new study that finds divorce and widowhood have a lingering, detrimental impact on health — even after remarriage. The study, scheduled to be published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, analyzes data from nearly 9,000 adults nationwide, ages 51 to 61, and finds those who had been divorced or widowed suffered 20 percent more chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer, than individuals who were currently married.

Divorce May Make You Sick –

Divorce causes more than bitterness and broken hearts. The trauma of a split can leave long-lasting effects on mental and physical health that remarriage might not repair, according to research released this week.

* Divorced or widowed people found to have 20 percent more chronic health conditions
* Marriage is believed to have protective physical and mental health benefits
* Traumas of divorce could be detrimental and difficult for people to rebound from

Divorce takes health toll that remarriage can’t heal, study says –

The study, to be published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, analyzed data from close to 9,000 people aged 51 to 61 and found that divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions than married people (such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer), and 23 percent had more mobility limitations (such as climbing stairs).

Read more:

Divorce increases chances for chronic health problems, even after remarrying: study –
This article develops a series of hypotheses about the long-term effects of one’s history of marriage, divorce, and widowhood on health, and it tests those hypotheses using data from the Health and Retirement Study. We examine four dimensions of health at mid-life: chronic conditions, mobility limitations, self-rated health, and depressive symptoms. We find that the experience of marital disruption damages health, with the effects still evident years later; among the currently married, those who have ever been divorced show worse health on all dimensions. Both the divorced and widowed who do not remarry show worse health than the currently married on all dimensions. Dimensions of health that seem to develop slowly, such as chronic conditions and mobility limitations, show strong effects of past marital disruption, whereas others, such as depressive symptoms, seem more sensitive to current marital status. Those who spent more years divorced or widowed show more chronic conditions and mobility limitations.

Marital Biography and Health at Mid-Life – Hughes, Mary Elizabeth; Waite, Linda J.  Source: Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Volume 50, Number 3, September 2009 , pp. 344-358(15) Publisher: American Sociological Association –

One of the big dangers to people in your situation (which, if history is any guide, also includes your ex) is that the combination of emotional and financial stress caused by a breakup of a marriage can be so overwhelming that it leads to sense of hopelessness, a feeling that you’ve gotten into a hole so deep, you’ll never claw your way out.

Starting over post-divorce and deep in debt –

Pat yourself on the back – you have finally done it! The worst of the emotional roller coaster is over. Your new life begins. Although that may be true, there are some loose financial ends that need to be tied. The settlement that you acquired can lead to a false sense of security. Statistics indicate that this is the time when most financial mistakes are made, especially if you sat back comfortably in the passenger seat when it came to managing the financial household in your previous relationship. Now is the time to learn good money management principles.
That means keeping accurate records, paying bills on time, and sticking to your long-term financial plan.

Financial Recovery After the Divorce –


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