It can creep into your mind. Something can trigger the thought, and suddenly, a rush of feelings from the divorce experience surface, causing you to relive the emotional rollercoaster. You are forced to relive the stress of having to spend the money necessary to have proper legal representation, and you are forced to relive the pain of letting go of the person that you vowed to spend your life with.
This complicated assortment of emotions can cause your mind to wander. You can find yourself questioning many of the decisions you and your ex-spouse made and wondering if you did the right thing.
With every passing moment that you focus on this pain, you are devoting time and energy to an unhappy and dysfunctional marriage. You are remaining present in something from the past, and in doing so, you are holding yourself back from your future away from your former marriage.
You are engaging with the stress of a resolved situation. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory ranks divorce as the second most stressful life event that a person can go through. Whether you are experiencing this stress while you are going through the process or experiencing it after the fact, it can put you and your health at risk, as you devote energy to something that is no more.
This level of stress can change your life expectancy, as it affects your mind and body. Research from WebMD states that those who were divorced or widowed were 20 percent more likely to have cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or another chronic condition. They also were 23 percent more likely to have mobility problems, such as walking short distances or difficulty climbing stairs.
Physical health risks
Chronic stress from the divorce experience can play a factor in a variety of health issues, including elevated blood pressure, lack of motivation, changes in sex drive, difficulty sleeping, headaches, increased risk of developing viral infections, anger or irritability, changes in appetite, chest pains, or an upset stomach, according to researchers from Ohio University.
A study published in Cardiology Research and Practice, a Hindawi publication in the United Kingdom, explored the supported link between divorce and the severity of coronary artery disease.
While divorce presents an adverse effect on cardiac outcome, the results of the study showed that of the 1,068 patients, they were unable to show a significant association between divorce and severe coronary artery disease among men. However, there was a significant adjusted association between divorce and severe coronary artery disease, as well as multivessel disease and left main coronary artery disease among women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, you should not be focusing on the stresses of the divorce experience. Having gone through it, you already are at risk for these health issues, so there is no sense in exacerbating the potential risks by mentally focusing on the trauma.
Mental health risks
Divorced men face a variety of mental health risks, as a result of going through the process. Anxiety and depression are serious health concerns that require constant attention, and as a man who has gone through the divorce process, you need to be aware of the signs and the potential life-ending risks.
PsychCentral published a study that stated that men are almost twice as more likely to suffer from depression after they break up with their spouse, and they were six times more likely to report an episode of depression compared with men who remained married.
In comparison, divorced or separated women were only three and a half times more likely to experience depression than those in still in the marriage.
Additionally, divorce can make things worse for men who have reported depressive episodes. This can spiral into more dangerous of behaviors, especially if you are a father separated from your child.
Divorced men and women are at a higher risk of suicide than married men and women, according to a study examining marital status and suicide at the University of California, Riverside. Additionally, divorced and separated persons were found to be over twice as likely to commit suicide than married persons.
For men, the risk of suicide among divorced men was over twice as likely as that of married men, whereas in women, there was no statistical difference in married women.
It is vital that you take the time to heal. If you feel like you are being pulled down by the weight of your divorce and you can feel yourself dedicating energy to an emotionally exhausting event like that, it is important that you seek help when needed.
It is necessary to consider mental health risks just as important as physical health risks and seek the assistance of a mental health professional when needed. They are experienced and trained to sort through the complex emotional landscape of the divorce process. They can help you heal and prevent you from further devoting energy and time to a marriage that did not work.
Focus on yourself
You have an opportunity ahead of you to rebuild your life and create something new. You can meet new people and build healthier and stronger relationships, if you allow yourself the opportunity. You have a chance at focusing on your career or getting physically and mentally healthier through exercise and therapy.
You have the chance of focusing on yourself in a way that your previous spouse could not. You just have to take that energy that you were using on the past and focus on yourself and your future.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.
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