New study shows the depth of the toll of divorce on physical and emotional health.

Ask Dr. Joy: The Toll of Divorce

By WEEK Producer

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:46 PM CDT

In tonight's Ask Dr. Joy: Divorce can take a tol l .

Some current findings about marriage and the effects of divorce are quite revealing.

Tonight we look at some research conducted in July of this year that relates to the effects of divorce—and it's not just centered on broken hearts and broken promises.

And here is the aforementioned Dr. Joy Miller...

Tell us a little about the July study's findings .

• University of Chicago study reveals that those who divorce are at risk for long–lasting effects on mental and physical health

• Johns Hopkins study found that divorced or widowed people have 20% more chronic health issues (diabetes, cancer, heart disease), than married people

• Divorced people have 23% more mobility limitations such as climbing stairs or walking down the block

• People who are divorced have a poorer rate of health than those of the same age

Recent statistics suggest that over half of all marriages end in divorce, so it seems this could be a dramatic effect on most of the American population ?

• We know divorce is extremely stressful and can be emotionally, physically and financially devastating

• But we also know some important trends that may explain some things. People who are married tend to check on each other's needs and go to the doctor, dentist or deal with medical issues more quickly (colonoscopy, flu shots, etc)

• Divorce may effect financial status which may effect access to health care and stress related illnesses

You've mentioned some dramatic effects of divorce, are there some things we can do for ourselves if we ARE facing a divorce ?

• Seek professional counseling to deal with divorce adjustment issues (loss, grief, adjustment financially, self esteem etc)

• Reach out and stay connected. Relationships are key to good mental and physical health. This is not the time to isolate

• Focus on the basics: Eat healthful foods, get plenty of sleep, exercise, make time for leisure

• Make a commitment to see this as a time to care and nurture yourself. Take time to discover a new path and a healthy lifestyle plan

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.