07/10/2013 09:11 BST | Updated 07/10/2013 09:14 BST

Can Divorce Damage Your Health More If You Are A Man?

Divorce is stressful even if you know it is for the best in the long run, and most couples are so focussed on the ending of the relationship that they tend to overlook the smaller details that can massively impact their health.


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The Guardian's Luisa Dillner shone a spotlight over the fact that divorced men struggle with some major health issues after the ending of their marriage.

"Divorced men are more likely to die earlier," she writes, "have higher rates of alcohol and substance abuse and a 39% higher suicide rate than married men. Men who divorce also have less sex, and they are less satisfied with what they do have."

men divorce

Dillner also cites higher depression rates for separated men and higher blood pressure. It doesn't make for cheery reading - and considering a third of British marriages end in divorce - it seems like a death knell.

Chris McIntosh, director of Divorce Easily and HuffPost UK blogger says: "This research suggests that having a stiff upper lip may not do men any favours on divorce and beyond. Divorce is stressful and bottling up emotions can be damaging. If men don't feel comfortable opening up to friends or family, it is worth asking their GP for a referral to a counsellor which could start them off on the right path to divorced life."

By contrast, women are 'much happier' post divorce despite not necessarily being financially better off. A study of 10,000 people in the UK by the Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society at Kingston Business School revealed that women cope better with major life changes, reported The Daily Mail.

But why the difference? Divorce expert Liz Copeland says: "Men and women deal with this type of stress differently. Women do reach out to others, moan to their friends and work out their therapy verbally, which may help with this transition."

However she doesn't think that the adverse health repercussions are just limited to men.

She added: "It's easy to see men going down the beer-slob route and becoming unfit loners, but I think that's a bit of a stereotype. Both men and women sometimes handle the stress through overeating/over-drinking. The body then has to deal with the hormonal effects of emotional stress as well as the onslaught of poor food, lowered nutrient intake, too may calories and alcohol toxins."

men divorce

There's no getting round the stress of a divorce, but perhaps there are ways to lessen the pain. Liz advises:

  • 1. Get help from your friends, there will be resources in the people around you. A group of non-judgemental, non-advice giving friends will make it less stressful.

  • 2. Stressful situation are an opportunity for change. Professional help at this point can make the transition shorter and less expensive. A divorce coach will support you through the changes you are experiencing and enable you to get onto your new life with fewer bumps in the road.

  • 3. Decide, at some point in the divorce process, to start looking after yourself.

A recent American study called for doctors to be aware that men may need therapy post divorce. The Daily Mail reported that Professor Ridwan Shabsingh, of Cornell University and president of the International Society of Men's Health, said: "Popular perception, and many cultures as well as the media, present men as tough, resilient, and less vulnerable to psychological trauma than women.

"The fact is men get affected substantially by psychological trauma and negative life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, war and bereavement."