As related in this New York Times article, divorce is bad for your physical health. In a large study of divorced and married subjects, participants that had been through a divorce reported significantly more physical ailments than participants that were still married. Further, the researchers concluded that divorce may actually be the cause of the physical ailments.
On some level, this is not surprising. We generally understand that divorce, like other stressful events in life, is not good for us.
But, these findings also speak to some less than intuitive issues in divorce. I recommend that every client I see have at least one appointment with a mental health professional to assess their stress level and their coping skills. Some clients discover that they are coping as well as can be expected. And some find out that they are not coping well at all. The study findings point to the physiological effects of stress as a possible catalyst for the physical ailments documented. If the stress of a divorce can literally lead to physical ailments, then it only makes sense that everybody going through a divorce should take steps to reduce the stress of the divorce. Mental health professionals have the skills to help parties reduce and relieve the stress of a divorce.
The study’s findings also support the idea that choosing a less stressful and combative divorce process is good for your physical health. Divorce processes like Collaborative Divorce and mediation reduce the uncertainty, acrimony and combative nature of a traditional divorce. This in turn reduces the stress of a divorce. While no divorce is easy or stress free, it seems that a wise couple would choose a process that is more supportive of their own physical health.
If you are in the midst of a divorce, or contemplating divorce take some time to learn about the many divorce processes available to you. According to the latest studies, it could literally make you healthier in the long run.