According to findings of a recent Iowa State University study, the mental and physical health of women who go through a divorce is considerably damaged. A team of researchers from the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research based at Iowa State showed that women who get divorced may suffer in the beginning only from mental health disorders, but later, they can also develop a wide range of physical illnesses. The physical health decline appears in divorced women as a consequence of mental health problems' negative impact on their bodies.
Co-author of the study, Fred Lorenz of the Iowa State University, explained: "What we found was that the act of getting a divorce produced no immediate effects on (physical) health, but it did have effects on mental health. Ten years later, those effects on mental health led to effects in physical health."
The study was conducted on 416 women from the rural area of Iowa, out of which 102 women had recently gone through a divorce. Female volunteers in the study have been investigated in the early 1990's and then again, after a 10 year period, in 2001. The follow-up study showed that 3 years after the research has begun, levels of psychological distress in divorced women were 7% higher than those of still married women. But rates of physical health of women in both 'groups' stayed the same.
However, final tests taken by the Iowa State University team a decade after the beginning of the study showed that rates of psychological distress and mental health disorders remained the same, while physical health has declined by 37% in divorced women as compared to their married counterparts. Researchers explained that the increasing rates of physical health disorders in divorced women are mainly triggered by high levels of stress brought about by financial, parental problems etc. In a nutshell, all concerns and worries a single mother has to put up with every day.
Commenting on the subject of divorce and its consequences, Linda Waite, co-author of the book 'The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially' stated that "divorce often creates a cascade of negative experiences and events for the families involved, with increased need for help, intervention and support."