The long-term health aspects of divorce
Long-Term Health Issues Caused by a Divorce
No matter how long you’ve been married, going through a divorce is often painful during and after the process. Studies have found that people who go through a divorce are around 20% more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. By understanding the long-term health issues that can come from a divorce, you may be able to prevent them.
Physical Damage to Body
Along with the higher risk for chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, divorced people are also over 20% more likely to experience mobility issues that involve everything from climbing stairs to walking relatively short distances.
It’s believed that the main cause of the physical health problems that occur long after a divorce has been finalized is chronic stress. If you suffer from elevated levels of stress on a long-term basis, you may eventually experience high blood pressure, a lack of motivation, difficulty sleeping, changes to appetite, an upset stomach, and chest pain.
Chronic conditions are particularly troublesome because of their ability to negatively impact daily routines. While there are numerous long-term physical effects that you could develop following a divorce, learning about these conditions ahead of time may give you the information you need to maintain your health.
Anxiety and Depression
Two of the most prevalent mental health effects of divorce are depression and anxiety. During and after a divorce, anxiety is common because of the need to make every decision on your own. While some individuals believe that these newfound responsibilities offer more freedom, other people can find the prospect to be daunting.
There may also be a considerable amount of uncertainty during this time, which can result in feelings of insecurity. You may be tasked with applying for a new job, moving to a new city, and living on less money than you and your ex-spouse were bringing in when you were married.
If you have children, they may need to switch schools. The arrangement you have with your ex could lead to challenges as you attempt to navigate a back-and-forth arrangement with child custody. All of these issues can cause your anxiety levels to increase substantially.
Once a marriage dissolves, it’s common for people to feel like failures and dwell on the things that caused the marriage to fall apart. When one spouse cheats, the knowledge of this action might cause the other spouse to feel a hopeless sensation that shatters their self-confidence for some time.
During this time, it’s possible to mitigate some of the anxiety and depression that regularly occurs by seeking support from close friends and family members. If you’re about to file for a divorce and would like to keep your stress levels low, our New Jersey divorce attorney can help you navigate the entire process and understand what your next steps are.
Weight Changes and Cardiovascular Disease
In the immediate aftermath of a divorce, you might notice that you’re gaining or losing a considerable amount of weight in a short period of time. While losing too much weight quickly can result in some health issues, a substantial weight gain significantly increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
The depression and anxiety that are often felt after a divorce may cause you to turn to fast food, chips, doughnuts, or other comfort foods that you may not have consumed as often while you were married. There are also some people who do the opposite and completely lose their appetite while going through a divorce. The consequences of losing weight too quickly include:
- Hair loss
- Muscle loss
- Menstrual irregularities
The Journal of Marriage and Family published a study that discovered that middle-aged women and men have a higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease after they go through a divorce. During the study, divorced individuals were compared to married people who were the same age.
This same study found that the risk of cardiovascular disease is higher among middle-aged women than middle-aged men. The reason for these results is that stress during a divorce can cause higher inflammation levels among women. This inflammation can continue for an extended period of time. Keep in mind that something being more likely doesn’t mean that it’s true for everyone. Whichever spouse is taking a more substantial hit to their finances may be more prone to being stressed after the divorce, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and other health issues.
Mobility Issues and Chronic Health Problems
Many of the health issues that occur during a divorce are linked to one another. For instance, if you’re depressed at the moment and find that you’re not sleeping well, these issues could make it more difficult for you to exercise regularly and eat properly. The unhealthy habits you build up in the aftermath of the divorce can lead to even more serious health conditions.
Another study found that widowed or divorced individuals were 20% more likely to develop a chronic health condition than the people who remained married. It’s possible to identify some of these issues early on by getting an annual physical.
Getting Remarried May Help
Research has shown that getting remarried can help reduce some of the long-term health issues. However, it won’t get rid of the effects that occurred following the divorce. The main reason why getting remarried can help with these issues is because it may be able to reduce your stress levels. Be on the lookout for other risk factors of chronic diseases, which include everything from high cholesterol to high blood pressure.
How to Keep Long-Term Health Effects of Divorce at Bay
Most of the health issues and diseases that develop after a divorce are caused by long-term stress. If your financial circumstances change after the divorce, you may find yourself needing to adjust to a much lower standard of living than before, which can add to your stress levels until you adjust or improve your standard of living.
Some other factors that might contribute to the development of chronic stress following your divorce include worrying about your children, handling conflicts with your ex-spouse, and co-parenting issues. You might also find it stressful to balance your responsibilities as a parent with your work responsibilities.
The support you gain from the people closest to you during this time can help you better navigate these situations and resolve issues before they linger. Therapy can also provide methods on how to cope with the stress you feel. Some of the stress caused during a divorce could be avoided by seeking an uncontested divorce where both you and your spouse sign a settlement agreement.
When you suffer from long-term stress, your immune system can be weakened substantially, which makes it more likely that negative health issues will develop. A weakened immune system increases the risk of cold and flu cases.
Keep in mind, however, that chronic stress can also exist during a marriage, which might explain any health problems that develop in the immediate aftermath of the divorce. Leaving a stressful relationship may be healthier in the long run.
Many individuals who are attempting to recover from the effects of divorce will focus on improving their own lives and sense of self. These improvements could be in the form of finding new friends, building new traditions, developing a career, moving to a different career, finishing your education, or taking up new hobbies.
If you are in the midst of a divorce and would like to have a lawyer by your side who can guide you through every step of the process, call our New Jersey divorce attorney today at (201) 343-0078 to set up an appointment.