Along with the death of a loved one and a serious illness, divorce is ranked high among the major traumatic life events that many people experience. Choosing to divorce is a big deal, and people understand implicitly that financial, personal, and legal trouble is common for all divorces even more so when the divorce becomes protracted and appeals are filed. We also know that stress contributes to the risk of dangerous conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Here are seven startling ways a protracted divorce can adversely affect your health.
Stress & Anxiety
We all know stress and anxiety place strain on the system. Choosing a partner to share our lives with is a big part of how we cope with uncertainty. Psychoanalyst, Dr. Fran Walfish says, “Typically, after a divorce anxiety levels shoot sky high. You don’t have a companion in the big, bad world anymore.” With our companion gone, we may lose a major source of security.
Many people feel that divorce makes them a failure. They believe they have let their former partner down in some way or have failed to provide a stable home for their children. This can make a person lose confidence- which can lead to depression. Dr. Walfish says, “[…] this type of thinking can send you into a downward spiral of hopelessness and destroy your self-confidence.”
Dramatic Weight Change
Significant weight gain or weight loss are not uncommon after a divorce. But drastic changes in weight can trigger health problems. Rapid weight loss can result in malnutrition- or a dangerously rapid release of toxins stored as fat. Rapid weight gain can be a sign of self-medicating with food or alcohol- both of which can create serious health problems.
Quality sleep is important for the full and proper restoration of the mind and body. Dealing with excessive conflict, fighting legal battles, and the like are sure to make anyone lose sleep. Our bodies do most of their healing during the deep hours of REM sleep. If we’re missing those restorative hours, we are not healing properly. The result is accelerated aging and a higher risk of all manner of disease.
One of the biggest dangers of stress and insomnia is the dramatic deleterious effects these states combined can have on our cardiovascular health. These risks are even more pronounced for persons over the age of 45.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of several health conditions, any of which can be dangerous by themselves. Diseases that can create this condition are high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, high cholesterol, and excess belly fat to name a few.
Other Health & Mobility Issues
The consequences of divorce on your health are not by any means separate. They are linked and they exacerbate each other. A study published in the Journal of Health found that divorced people have 20% more serious health conditions and 23% more mobility deficits.
If you are going through a divorce, or expect to, the time to take care of your health is now. Get a physical exam, and make important changes today.