Ask Dr. Joy: Divorce Can Take A Toll

By WEEK Producer

June 15, 2011 Updated Jun 15, 2011 at 7:52 PM CDT

Current findings about marriage and the effects of divorce are revealing. Dr. Joy Miller looks at recent research that relates to the effects of divorce and it's not just centered on broken hearts and broken promises.

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

- A 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 if the research is accurate, it would indicate a dramatic effect on most of the American population.

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

- 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.

Are there some things people can do for themselves if they're 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 and 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.

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