You might have seen the headlines: “Divorce Causes Heart Attacks,” “Long Term Health Problems After Divorce,” or even “Divorced Men Die Sooner.” Recently completed medical studies have led to multiple news reports about the effects of divorce on health. Reading through these sensational headlines it seems that not only is divorce bad for your health, it may even be life threatening. Will getting a divorce really kill you?

The answer to that question is a bad news – good news situation. Is divorce bad for your health? The short answer is yes. Recent studies have shown that it can be detrimental in both the short and long terms. So what’s the good news? The negative effects are completely preventable!

Divorce is Not the Real Cause
According to recent studies, divorced individuals are more likely to develop chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease; perhaps by as much as 20% over married couples. Recently divorced people are also more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, dramatic weight change, and substance abuse.

Going through this list of ailments, you have likely noticed something researchers have also observed; these conditions are related. Depression and anxiety often lead to weight gain and substance abuse which in turn contributes to heart disease and diabetes. Just because you get divorced, does not mean that your health will automatically start to fall apart. Your emotional and mental reaction to the divorce is the ultimate cause of the health issues.

Preventable Problems
Eating right and exercising regularly solves a lot of these health issues. Why is that so hard for some divorced people to do? During divorce a lot of emphasis is placed on figuring out child custody and visitation, dividing financial assets, and resolving other issues. Divorce often means moving into a new home and sometimes even changing jobs. The list of things we have to do in a divorce often leaves off taking care of our mental well being. It’s common to experience anxiety and depression after a divorce. Shouldn’t it be just as common to seek professional help? Seeing a therapist after your divorce could be the key to good health for a long time to come. Overcoming depression is about not just “thinking positively.” It is often a medical condition that is best dealt with by a doctor.

So, will getting a divorce kill you? It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the answer is yes, but the reality is not that simple. Clearly divorced people need to pay extra attention to keeping themselves in good health, especially immediately after divorce so that they don’t fall into bad habits. It’s also important to focus as much as possible on the new opportunities open to you. Looking at divorce as a fresh start may not only be a good idea, it might save your life.