Health Knowledge

How Divorce Can Affect Your Health

Much has been said and written about divorce. It is true that people who decide to dissolve a marriage do not immediately return to their normal life experiencing various “side effects” of divorce. This article is about how to cope with possible emotional and physical effects of divorce — from sadness and anxiety, up to stress and even severe depression.

Peculiarities of post-divorce stress in men and women

Real depression is a disease that, fortunately, does not occur very often. In most cases, after a divorce, the so-called sub-depressive condition occurs, which is characterized by a decrease in mood, deterioration of performance, and other signs.

For sure, anyone can cope with a bad mood, as the main thing is not to succumb to longing and despair and remember that you have a lot of things to do, and you merely have no right for self-pity.

Sport and physical activities are very helpful in dealing with longing. Even if you definitely want to lie on the couch staring at the wall, you need to force yourself at least to take a walk. This will surely change your condition.

Yes, a simple walk is a part of a complex of general strengthening means for many diseases. The fact is that moderate exercise helps to relieve tension and more quickly switch the state of the body from wakefulness to sleep (and most people in stress suffer from insomnia); activation of oxygen metabolism improves brain nutrition and contributes to the normalization of nervous processes in the whole body, improves general immunity.

You should never underestimate how strongly our physical health is connected with our emotional state, and vice versa, and how much we have simply by nature to help ourselves on our own.

A positive attitude is also essential. Try to find something positive in the ordinary events that happen to you every day. Look at the situation like this: a turning point has now begun in your life, which can lead to the most unexpected fate changes.

All this is related to both men and women. However, men yet experience this process not quite as women. What is the difference, and what can be advised for men and women not to allow stress symptoms to develop into more severe negative effects of divorce?

Women, usually, experience divorce stress syndrome immediately, even before the divorce proceeding. The most challenging period after the breakup for women is the first year. During this period, women more often go into depression, turn to psychologists and therapists, in some cases, even the risk of suicide increases.

The male reaction, as well as the mechanism of depression after divorce, is different. If the initiator of the breakup is a woman, it often comes as a surprise to her husband. Often, even if there were conflicts in the family, the man for a long time does not realize how serious the problem is and that it can cause a divorce. Therefore, at first, a feeling of being lost appears, and reality seems implausible. But there are not manifestations of some strong emotions yet. A feeling of detachment appears, which causes apathy and unwillingness to do or change anything, or vice versa, feeling of lightness and freedom. Anyway, the thing is that men tend to face post-divorce stress, in general, later than women, but at the same time, on average, they are under stress longer.

This is explained by the fact that venting emotions is usually easier for women. They are more tend to talk about their misfortunes with their friends or parents. Most men prefer to hold it back, so they need more time to reflect and get over emotional problems. Sometimes, it is essential to find a person who can listen and empathize. This is important during a period of divorce when a person stops communicating with a husband or wife.

Discussing problems with friends, healthy lifestyle and physical exercise can help prevent depression or smooth out other negative psychological effects of divorce. You should not withdraw into yourself. Try to look at troubles from the outside and come out of a state of apathy.

How to get out of depression after a divorce

The breakup, and especially the dissolution of official marriage, is accompanied by negative emotions. Divorce is accompanied not only by emotionally severe disappointments but also by everyday disputes about the property and children-related issues (custody, support, parenting time). This exhausts the participants in the divorce process and cannot but affect the overall psychosocial and moral integrity.

Therefore, unfortunately, depression is quite common after the dissolution of the marriage. None of the spouses are safe from it. Although men and women often behave differently in this life situation, everyone asks themselves how to get over divorce depression.

First, you need to clearly understand what depression after a divorce is and when it appears. In psychology, depression is considered a disease and is defined as “an affective disorder characterized by a negative emotional background, a change in the motivational sphere and cognitive (consciousness-related) machinery with which person conceptualizes the world, and general passivity of behavior.

A large number of people suffer from this disorder. About 17 million adults in the United States have depression. Even though the symptoms of depression manifest themselves in many people, it is crucial to distinguish a prolonged lousy mood from a severe psychological disorder.

Psychogenic depression

This type of disorder occurs as a reaction to external factors, to the loss of a loved one. Moreover, it can mean not only the death of this person but also his or her disappearance from the life of the one who is depressed. This can happen as a result of breakup and divorce. It is this type of psychological disorder that is most often experienced by men due to divorce. Psychogenic depression is self-pity, anxiety, a feeling of hopelessness, an overestimation of values, a sense of meaninglessness of life.

In a state of psychogenic depression, a person is depressed, dissatisfied with himself and others, is restless, the reaction may be inhibited. The situation seems hopeless, and the suicidal tendency increases. Such depression can become chronic.

Endogenous depression

Another type of mental disorder is internal depression. Its cause is the insufficient production of certain substances by the body and the disruption of its normal functioning. This disease is treated more seriously, using psychotherapeutic methods and drugs.

The occurrence of such a disorder is directly related to external circumstances, and life troubles are the reasons for the development of this disease in acute form. Divorce can become such a push, accompanied by intense experiences.

It is essential to understand that in the treatment of this type of depression, the emphasis is not on a specific negative experience like divorce, but on the general condition of the person. If it is wrong to determine the type and causes of depression and try to catapult a person out of his depression by working with negative experiences associated with divorce, such treatment may not have results.

To sum it all up, at the initial stage, when a person feels anxiety and stress, quite simple methods should not be ignored as they can really help. These are sports, strength exercises and swimming, a complex of vitamins, group B + C, your own eager to open a new page in the life, as well as the support of friends and family.

If a person suspects that sadness and depressed mood develops into depressive disorder, then the advice “to distract and not lose heart” certainly will not help. Just in case, it is worth consulting with a psychiatrist. However, remember – drugs help you feel better, but you still cannot do without “pumping” your inner resources, adjusting the locus of control and working with self-esteem, despite the most effective pills. Medications for depression are just an energy credit that needs to be worked off.

Other possible effects of divorce on the health of adults and children

Bad habits and their consequences

American researchers along with a divorce company have studied the physical effects of divorce on adults and concluded that divorce often negatively affects physical health and may even shorten life expectancy.

Experts are convinced that most likely this is due to smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse, as well as reduced physical activity. Of course, this is related to the fact that divorced people often get depressed but do not always seek to find the right and healthy way out of this situation, preferring to run from the problems and dull the emotional pain with the help of bad habits.

To confirm the theory, the researchers conducted an experiment in which about 6.000 volunteers took part. More than 900 of them were divorced. Doctors analyzed their physical activity, health, and bad habits.

As a result, the risk of premature death among divorced people was 46% higher than that of the married tests subjects.

Single people more often were not satisfied with their lives and were lazy to go in for sports, more often have smoked and drank alcohol. Maybe, people tend to monitor the health of their spouse and take care, trying to persuade them to get rid of bad habits. That is, besides trying to cope with stress, the loss of such social control can also be significant.


In family therapy, quite often there are situations when, just before the parents’ divorce, children start to get very sick, sometimes, before they even know about the breakup. With the help of illness, they are absolutely unconsciously(!) trying to reconnect the relationships of their parents again, and sometimes they succeed.

Psychologists are well aware that if a disease is accompanied with some “benefit” (again, unconsciously, that is, the physical symptoms of the disease actually manifest themselves), meaning a way to express or solve psychological problems, then such condition is difficult to treat with traditional medical methods.

The thing is in psychosomatic. Psychosomatics is a medical direction that studies the connection between body and soul. In other words, psychosomatics determines the impact of psychological factors on health. There is a whole theory that every physical ailment has psychological root causes. People say that all sickness comes from nerves, and there is some truth in this. The desire to live and the belief in the best are vital factors in the healing processes.

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