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The Ripple Effects of Divorce: Understanding the Impact on Families and Society

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family, divorce, separation

In 2020, 41 percent of couples in Australia that got a divorce had been married for almost a decade. When you go through a divorce, it affects not only you and your ex-partner’s family. As you go from being part of a pair to a lone individual, you quickly learn that your entire life has turned around. This can be especially difficult after spending such a long time with someone. As you adjust to this major change, it takes a toll on your health and relationships. Let’s examine how divorce affects your health and social relationships and what you can do about it.

Physical Health Effects of Divorce

Studies show that divorce is a very stressful period that can have a major impact on your physical health. No matter how long the divorce process takes, going back and forth with your divorce lawyer will leave you with little time to look after yourself.

Poor Cardiovascular Health

According to a study in the journal Global Health Research and Policy, being separated or divorced was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, one study found that middle-aged women become more susceptible to heart disease than married women. This is in contrast to middle-aged divorced men.

One of the reasons is that divorce-related stress can contribute to heightened inflammation, which is more apparent in women than men. Another reason could be the drop in financial support resources following a divorce. Combined with the pressures of single parenting, women are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Weakened Immune System

A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine shows that going through a divorce has a prolonged depressive effect on immune system functions. It showed that women who had been separated for a year faced greater depression in the immune response. And among the divorced or separated women, greater attachment to their ex-partner was associated with poorer immune response. When you combine it with depression, stress can reduce white blood cell activities that are essential for preventing infections.

Weight Fluctuations

When you’re in the middle of getting a divorce, regular meetings with your divorce attorney can turn your regular schedule upside down. In the midst of this, you may forget to take your meals on time or take them at all. Similarly, the stress of how much a divorce costs can push you to give up on nutritious meals and get fast food instead.

After divorce, the pressures of grocery shopping on your own, single parenthood, and cooking meals can take a toll on your eating habits. It’s likely that the change in routine leaves little time for exercise as well. Therefore, it’s common to experience major fluctuations in weight during and after a divorce.

Mental Health Effects of Divorce

One study on the effects of divorce and widowhood on Australian adults shows that recently divorced adults were twice as likely to have higher psychological distress, anxiety, and depression. This happens due to several environmental, social, and financial stressors.

Risk of Depression and Anxiety

One study on the changes in depression after divorce showed that feelings of depression could increase following a divorce. These depressive feelings were attributed to several factors, such as increased financial hardships and the lack of close relationships. Moreover, children who experience parental divorce are more likely to develop depressive feelings.

But aside from low mood, many divorce lawyers report that their clients experience anxiety because of how overwhelming divorce can be. After all, you’re probably worried about loneliness, instability, and insecurity. For instance, moving out of your home, losing financial support, and worrying about being alone are all reasons to feel anxious.

Poor Sleep

While the factors mentioned above are enough to make you lose sleep, going through a divorce is likely to cause several other lifestyle changes. Depending on how long the divorce process takes, you’ll need to find other living arrangements or even manage an extra job to support yourself. These changes and the anxiety of going through a divorce can make it difficult to get restful sleep.

Risk of Substance Abuse

Statistics show that most people who develop a substance abuse problem rely on alcohol and illicit drugs to cope with stressors. Self-medicating is a way to reduce negative feelings and quiet down intrusive thoughts that can occur due to a major life change such as divorce.

Social and Economic Effects of Divorce

One of the biggest drawbacks of divorce is that it leads to a loss of financial support and stable income. In cases where one spouse was a homemaker or stay-at-home parent, divorce can lead to financial instability. And if you had a shared income with your spouse, a divorce means that you may no longer be able to afford activities you once engaged in.

Moreover, married couples’ social circles often include other married couples. People who get divorced may see it as a barrier to meeting with these friends. It may seem uncomfortable to meet them as an individual. Not to mention, you may wonder whether they actually liked you or if they were just closer to your ex-spouse.

Coping Strategies for Dealing with Divorce

After a divorce, it can feel easy to wallow in self-pity and guilt. However, it’s important that you look ahead and try to cope with the divorce in healthy ways. For starters, you should speak to a professional therapist about what you’re going through. Other strategies include:

  • Rediscovering old hobbies or finding new ones;
  • Catching up with your friends;
  • Make time to take care of yourself;
  • Look at things positively;
  • Go through any leftover legal matters with your divorce lawyer.

While the guilt and anxiety of divorce may hold you back from looking after yourself, try to start out small by setting proper routine and planning meals. Once you master that, you can move on to meeting friends on the weekends and reflecting on how you feel after the divorce.


1.      What are the most common health effects of divorce?

Cardiovascular disease, poor immune function, and weight fluctuations are the most common health effects of divorce.

2.      How does divorce impact mental health?

Divorce can contribute to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and poor sleep.

3.      Can divorce increase the risk of heart disease?

Yes, studies show that divorced people, particularly women, have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

4.      What are the best coping strategies for dealing with divorce?

The best coping strategies include seeing a therapist, making time for self-care, finding a new hobby, and meeting with friends.

5.      How can I rebuild my social support network after my divorce?

You can build a social support network after divorce by meeting your closest friends, joining support groups for divorcees, and making new friends.

6.      Is it normal to feel guilty after a divorce?

Yes, it’s normal to feel guilty and as if you failed to do your best in the marriage. It’s best to see a therapist to help you navigate these feelings.

7.      Can divorce lead to financial strain and economic hardship?

Single parenthood and loss of financial support can lead to financial strain. It’s best to speak to your family lawyer about how you can lessen this strain.

8.      What are the long-term impacts of divorce on physical health?

Increased weight loss/gain, vulnerability to infections, and chances of heart disease are some of the long-term impacts of divorce on physical health.

9.      Is seeking professional help recommended for coping with divorce?

Most family law lawyers recommend that you see a therapist to cope with the stresses of divorce.

10.  How can I improve my overall well-being after a divorce?

Mental health professionals recommend maintaining a consistent routine, getting enough exercise, and eating balanced meals. Also, avoid making major life changes or decisions for some time.


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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