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Divorce and Men’s Health
The Consequences of Poor Health During Divorce Cases
The stereotype might be that men move on faster after a divorce, trading in the old wife for a fast car or a younger woman. New studies find that following a divorce, men appear to get hit harder when it comes to physical and emotional well-being than women.
Men at Greater Risk
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that divorce or separation is the single best predictor of stress-related illness and that divorced men seem to suffer disproportionately from the consequences.
Here’s what divorced men – as opposed to married men – are up against:
- 4 times more likely to commit suicide
- 7 times more likely to die from pneumonia
- 6 times more likely to suffer from depression
- 2 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease
- 2 times more likely to die from hypertension
- 2 times more likely to die from stroke
Divorced men, specifically, are at a much greater risk for suicide. The suicide rate for divorced white men is four times higher than their married counterparts.
While both divorced men and women have a higher risk of depression than people who remained with their spouses, studies show that divorced or separated men are six times more likely to report episodes of depression compared with men who remained married. Some argue that one of the reasons why divorced men are more at risk of experiencing depression is that their main sources of social support was their spouse. After a divorce, this social support may no longer exist. 19% of men who were no longer with their spouse found a decline in their social support, while only 6% of men who remained in a relationship found a drop.
Pull it Together
Knowing that you’re at risk, you can choose, now, to do something about it. Many of the conditions mentioned above can be avoided by making healthy choices and investing some time in your health.
You can choose to eat well – or at least better – and avoid alcohol and drugs. You can choose to make some time for the gym, or a regular run or bike ride. Even small changes, like taking the stairs can greatly reduce some of the health risks mentioned above.
No one is perfect and it’s asking a lot of men just starting the divorce process to radically change what they eat and how they exercise, but every day, divorcing men are confronted with little choices that can add up to big consequences. Instead of Burger King, try Subway. Walk the dog a little extra. Ride your bike in the morning or after work. Save some gas and try riding your bike to work.