What Are the Physical and Psychological Effects of Divorce?

What Are the Physical and Psychological Effects of Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most painful experiences that a human being could ever go through.

Breaking up with someone when, at one time, the thought was that we would be spending our entire lives together, can cause some of the most severe mental issues that also reflect on the physical well-being of the couple.

Divorce is a distressing process which some of the times leaves at least one of the partners emotionally scarred. The amount of stress through which one goes is immense. So, the physical and psychological effects of divorce is devastating.

Matthew Dupre, a researcher at Duke University in North Carolina, found out in a study that divorced women are more prone to have a heart attack than married women are. It was found that women who had gone through a marital separation were up to 24% more predisposed to having a myocardial infarction.

The distress that divorce causes one’s health isn’t limited to just the emotional. Beside the physical consequences that follow from the stress caused by the marital disruption, other mental health issues may arise which could lead to other chronic complications. The negative effects of divorce can be brutal if, they are left to be untended, having even potential life-threatening outcomes.

Let’s try and understand the physical and psychological effects of divorce on the estranged partners.

Chronic stress

When we think of stress we don’t always perceive it as posing a real danger to our health, but it turns out that this is the leading factor for far more diseases than you would like to think of. Everything happens in your mind, but let’s see first how stress occurs in it.

The hypothalamus, one of the brain’s control towers, sends signals to your adrenal glands to release hormones (such as cortisol and adrenaline) that cause the “fight or flight” response whenever you are in a stressful situation. These hormones cause physiological reactions in your body, such as an increased heartbeat for improved blood flow to your muscles and tissues.

After the stressful situation or fear has passed, your brain will eventually stop firing signals. But, what if it doesn’t? This is called chronic stress.

Divorce harbors chronic stress because of its long process.

It is logical that people who go through a rough divorce will automatically be more prone to heart diseases because stress increases blood pressure. Besides the cardiovascular issues that arise with it, stress also increases your risk to autoimmune diseases because of an overdriven inflammatory response that it gives to your body.

Depression and mental health issues

Depression and mental health issues

The physical and psychological effects of divorce on the mental and physical well-being of the partners are quite shattering.

Robyn J. Barrus of Brigham Young University – Provo wrote that individuals who go through divorce are more likely to lose their sense of identity because of the schism. They also struggle more to cope with the new change and establish their well-being to its former levels.

Mental health issues such as depression is, often times, mediated by the low quality of life in which the individuals find themselves post-divorce, the increased economic challenges that come along with it and fear of confiding themselves into new relationships.

The distress that divorce causes also makes individuals more prone to alcohol and drug consumption, which automatically lead to even worse mental health-related issues, such as addiction.

Other factors

Among the other factors that contribute to the physical and mental distresses that divorce brings, we have to mention some of the socio-economic ones that come along with it.

We have to note that divorced mothers are more prone to mental collapses because of the socio-economic factors that impact them post-separation. In the United States alone 65% of divorced mothers fail to receive child support from their former partners.

Single mothers also face the stigma of society for working and leaving their offspring into daycare. Just because women generally contribute less to the household income, they experience greater financial difficulties after a divorce. A paper states that material circumstances (income, housing, and financial uncertainty) affect women more than they affect men.

Staying married implies that both partners lead an organized way of life.

We can assert that the healthier the marriage is, the healthier the partners in it also are. Having in a marriage a protecting partner greatly reduces the chances of stress, vice, and more than else provides an organized lifestyle.

You stand to lose all the care and love of a protecting partner post marital separation, and it just adds to the physical and psychological effects of divorce which can become unbearable for some.