Divorce can be a truly painful experience, but few people realise how literally so. According to a number of medical experts, divorce is linked to several very serious health conditions. When couples initiate divorce proceedings, some thought should be given to their physical well-being. If the experts are right, many people risk serious illness or even premature death by involving themselves in an acrimonious divorce.
Divorce is obviously stressful. Few people emerge from the process without any emotional or psychological scars, but fewer still would imagine that splitting from their husbands or wives could cause them bodily harm. Research has shown, however, that many people do suffer illness after divorcing their partners.
One recently exposed ailment to be linked to the divorce process has been nicknamed divorce stress syndrome, which is reported to produce symptoms such as terrible back pain, anxiety, weight loss, depression, panic attacks and insomnia. The condition is said to have caused harm to celebrity divorces, including actress Demi Moore and presenter Andrea McLean, but is it not simply the case that divorce can expose a person to long-term poor health rather than one very specific umbrella ailment?
Serious Health Consequences
News of Demi Moore’s poor health following her split from actor Ashton Kutcher last year is hardly surprising. Physical health problems often develop after emotional trauma and divorce can be a deeply upsetting experience. Divorcees might also change the way they live, with some becoming more heavily reliant on drink or drugs, while others tend to eat poorly and exercise less frequently. A change in sleeping habits can also have a negative impact on health, so people spend many hours each night staring at the ceiling wondering why their marriage failed, it is only a matter of time before the effects on the body begin to show.
Several years ago, a study in the US found that around 20 per cent of people who had remarried after divorce or death separated them from their previous partners were at greater risk of suffering a serious chronic health condition than people who described themselves as happily married. The list of chronic health conditions referenced in the study included cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Divorce lawyers will be the first to admit that an acrimonious break-up can be extremely stressful for all concerned. Managing stress while divorce proceedings are under way can provide at least two benefits: clarity of thought and strength of heart. The latter is quite literal, as stress produces a hormone called cortisol, which is capable of narrowing the arteries, potentially causing tissue damage and furring of the arterial walls. Heart disease tends to develop in later life, so spending months or years stressing about a divorce could shave years off a person’s life expectancy.
Eat, Sleep, Exercise
An individual might be forgiven for indulging in food and alcohol as a marriage falls apart. The odd sleepless night is also quite acceptable, but only within reason. If stress levels are not controlled effectively, if food and drink become a source of comfort and if too many nights are spent climbing the walls or staring into space, the human body will eventually suffer.
It is important, therefore, that a person involved in a divorce maintains a relatively healthy, consistent pattern of eating and sleeping. Exercise can help to relax the mind while improving overall health, so if divorces want to stave off ill health they should perhaps take up running