The Physical Effects of Divorce


  • Both short term and long term medical conditions can be caused by the stress of the divorce process.
  • Less documented symptoms, such as flares of acne or eczema can occur.
  • Making better health choices is preventative way of taking care of your body during the stresses of divorce.

The divorce experience can be a taxing one, affecting all aspect of one’s health and wellness. Given the stress of splitting custody, assets, finances, and other aspects of one’s previous life, health and wellness are not often made a priority.

In the heat of the all of the changes, the mental and emotional wear and tear that the process can create can manifest itself in physical symptoms that can cause lasting damage to one’s body.

Damaging to your body

There are many long term conditions that divorced individuals are more susceptible to, that can threaten one’s long-term health. According to WebMD, those who were divorced or widowed were 20 percent more likely to have cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or another chronic condition.

Divorced individuals also were 23 percent more likely to have mobility problems, such as walking short distances or difficult climbing stairs.

Many researchers believe that the chronic stress caused by divorce is the culprit for many of the physical systems. Researchers at Ohio University say that the chronic stress of divorce can cause difficulty sleeping, change in sex drive, lack of motivation, elevated blood pressure, headaches, increased risk of developing viral infections 1, anger or irritability, change in appetite, chest pain, or an upset stomach.

These conditions create lasting difficulties that can debilitate the daily routines of those that suffer from them, especially during the divorce experience. Your health is one of the only things that cannot be split in half and given as a part of the process, so it is paramount that you maintain it at all times.

This requires you, as someone experiencing a divorce, to learn more about the harmful conditions that someone who is suffering or has suffered from a divorce is vulnerable to. As an informed individual, you will be able to recognize what is happening to your own body and create solutions for yourself, designed to improve your personal physical health.

Less documented symptoms

From a physical perspective, many changes less documented can occur, relating to the divorce experience. Flares of acne have been associated with going through the stresses of divorce, due to the hormonal output, according to “Clearing Concepts: A Guide to Acne Treatment” by Mark Lees.

According to family therapist Charlotte Friedman of Divorce Support Group in the United Kingdom, around 60 percent of people who divorce suffer physical symptoms, like eczema, migraines, or back trouble.

The back problems are a result of the muscular tension that can develop, due to the anger or stress that the divorce experience can incite. It often comes with an elevation in blood pressure and an increased heart rate.

Psychology of symptoms

When you find yourself pleading your case, arguing for your future and desperately attempting to secure as much parenting time with your children as humanly possible against an ex-spouse who is attempting to do the same for themselves, it can incite the anger necessary for the physical symptoms to manifest.

The psychology behind the manifestation of symptoms stems from the stress of the situation. According to the American Psychological Association, even the shortest, most minor stresses that life can offer have the ability to have an impact. It’s the same reflex that causes you to have a sore throat before making a public speech, and it’s the same reflex that can do damage to your divorce case.

During the divorce process, your licensed attorney is by your side, helping you throughout the process and making sure that you receive professional and fair representation. However, there are moments where you may be asked to make some sort of statement, and the anticipation of those moments can cause these minor acute stresses like a stomach ache or a migraine.

Bigger risks

During bigger moments, such as a testimony or a confrontation with an ex-spouse, this level of chronic stress can be sudden and fueled with emotion, causing greater risks. Arrhythmias, heart attacks, and even sudden death can be triggered in people with heart disease.

The anguish of the experience can cause your body to react with this type of intensity, and knowing more about the risks will help you make smarter decisions moving forward.

Healthier choices

This starts with keeping an eye on your physical condition. Watching what you eat and exercising more often will allow you to have a better grasp on your own health during this stressful period in your life. It’s one thing to say that you’ll do that, but it is another thing to put that plan into action. It is completely understandable not to. There’s only so much time in the day, and it can be expensive attempting to keep your health in check.

However, in the long run, you are investing in yourself, and during a time when you are being left with half of what you once had, investing in your own future may be the smartest move that you can make.

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