Divorce negatively affects physical and mental health, study finds

Photo (c) Karl Tapales - Getty Images

Researchers hope their findings can help identify those who need support the most

While finances are one of the biggest factors consumers worry about when thinking of divorce, a new study conducted by researchers from Frontiers explored the physical and mental health ramifications of ending a marriage. 

According to their findings, consumers’ physical and mental health is likely to take a hit in the months immediately following a divorce. 

“The mental and physical health of divorcees was significantly worse than the comparative background population immediately following divorce,” said researcher Dr. Søren Sander. 

Understanding what contributes to poorer health outcomes

To better understand this trend affecting divorced consumers, the researchers had over 1,800 recently divorced men and women answer questions about their education level, income, and number of children. They also answered specific questions about their divorces and their health and wellness. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that the participants’ mental and physical health worsened following a divorce. The study found that the participants were less likely to socialize, struggled with emotional capacity, and had poorer physical and mental health overall. The study also revealed that mental health was likely to be worse for couples who had a lot of conflict throughout the divorce process. 

“Across gender, higher levels of divorce conflict were found to predict worse mental health, even when accounting for other socio-demographic variables and other divorce characteristics,” Dr. Sander said. 

Helping those in need

The researchers found that certain factors were effective at boosting the participants’ mental and physical health following a divorce. For instance, having a new partner, earning more money, and being relatively younger were beneficial for both men and women’s health outcomes post-divorce.  

Moving forward, the researchers hope that these findings inspire more consumers to seek support services following the divorce process to help mitigate some of the negative health effects that are likely to crop up. 

“We need evidence-based interventions that can help divorcees immediately following divorce,” said researcher Gert Hald. “These might include face-to-face or digital interventions that are designed to reduce the specific adverse mental and physical health effects of divorce. Not only would this be beneficial for divorcees, but it could also save money by countering the negative effects of divorce on work-place productivity, sick days, doctor visits, and use of health care facilities.” 

Get a health screening near you

Get Peace of Mind or Early Detection with Life Line Screening

Get started