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Divorce Leads to Men’s Mental Health Struggles

Divorce: Hard on Men

DivorceA recent study suggests that the toll of divorce may be particularly hard on men, contradicting the notion that men are bulletproof emotionally, less susceptible to psychological trauma than women.[1] The study found that men who have recently divorced have higher rates of mortality, substance abuse, and depression.1 They also often lack social support.1

According to researchers Dr. Daniel Felix and colleagues, there is a crucial need to recognize and treat divorce-related health problems in men.1 Previous studies have shown that happily married men live a few years longer and have less health problems than their single and divorced counterparts.1 Divorced men are more prone to diseases ranging from the common cold to heart attacks to cancer.2

In fact, divorced men are also more likely to partake in risky activities, such as alcohol and drug abuse, and their suicide rate is 39 percent higher than that of married men.[2] Depression is also more common in divorced men and they undergo psychiatric care 10 times more often than married men.2

Case Study: 45-Year-Old Divorced Man

Dr. Daniel Felix and colleagues presented a case study of a 45-year-old divorced man, where the researchers recommended how to evaluate his issues and plan a course of treatment based on the current clinical guidelines.1

The man visited his family doctors for the first time in 10 years, complaining of the inability to sleep and persistent abdominal pain.[3] He revealed that he drank a six-pack of beer a day and had recently become unsatisfied with his job at a local bank, finding his colleagues and boss irritating.3 Although he was paying a significant amount of child support, he rarely was allowed to see his children and all of his friends no longer spoke with him, as they were still friends with his ex-wife.3

Researchers reported that the man was in good health, aside from having a slightly enlarged liver and a higher body mass index.3 Instead, many of his mild physical ailments and his mildly depressed state was associated with the anxiety and stress from his divorce.3 As treatment, the researchers recommended nutrition, exercise, and sleep education.3 For his issues with alcohol, they referred him to an alcohol treatment group and divorce support group.3

Tips for Lessening the Mental Burden of Divorce

According to Men’s Health, there are things a man who is going through a divorce can do to lessen the psychological effects of the situation.[4] First, make a list of everything you want to do—and then burn it.4 The worst enemy in a divorce is your impulses.4 Don’t listen to your instincts when it comes to risky behavior.4 Second, call your old friends.4 You need support. Rebuild your social life with positive people, as this will help you feel less lonely during this time.4 Third, don’t leave it all to the lawyers.4 In mediation, hash out the issues at hand—custody, child support, assets.4 You are more likely to have a better after-divorce relationship when the two of you work out your issues so that you’re both satisfied.4 And last, but not least, seek help if you are struggling.4 There’s nothing wrong with that.



[1] Nauert, R. (2013, October 1). Men’s Mental Health Suffers After Divorce. PsychCentral. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from psychcentral.com/news/2013/10/01/mens-mental-health-suffers-after-divorce/60153.html

[2] Divorce Can Have Serious Impact On Men’s Health, New Research Finds. (2013, September 30). The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/mens-health-divorce_n_4018432.html

[3] Innes, E. (2013, October 1). Divorce and man’s health: Separation increases risk of death, substance abuse, suicide and depression. Mail Online. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2440005/Divorce-mans-health-Separation-increases-risk-death-substance-abuse-suicide-depression.html

[4] Divorce Advice. (2004, April 13). Men’s Health Magazine. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/divorce-advice

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