Going through a divorce can be the most challenging time in a woman’s life. Changes come fast and furious. It’s hard enough to adjust to being single again, but if you compound this with the financial and emotional adjustments of a divorce, a woman’s mental and physical well-being may be at risk.
The stress of divorce may wear down many aspects of women’s health according to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found. The study focused on interviews with more than 400 mothers of adolescent children, including 80 women who had just gone through a divorce. The interviews began in the early 1990s and repeated 10 years later. Even as stress dropped off over the years, it left an unmistakable mark on a divorced women’s health. After 10 years, divorced women reported significantly more health problems than married women.
Even ten years after the divorce, divorced women were more likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, depression, stomach trouble, and other conditions that are strongly correlated with stress than married women. The health gap which developed between the divorced and married women is especially striking because the two groups were equally healthy when the study began. As years passed, divorce appeared to have had a direct impact on a woman’s health.
In one ground-breaking report, (Wallerstein JS, Blakeslee S. Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade after Divorce. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1989) the long-term happiness of divorced women were studied. This study showed that most family functioning is worse 12 to 18 months after the divorce than at the time immediately following to the divorce:
The continuing animosity and conflict between the parents were frequently transmitted to their children, who become caught in the crossfire.
If these studies are to be believed, the long-term consequences of divorce on women’s happiness and health can be considerable. Yet women can improve their chances of moving on to better lives and greater happiness through positive coping mechanisms and strong life choices.
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