effects of divorce on men

Effects of Divorce on Men

Tough, resilient, and confident – this is the way men are portrayed in the media. Men are not pictured as being weak or needing help, especially when it comes to the family unit. But, according to a study published in the Journal of Men’s Health, men are more susceptible to health issues following a divorce than women.

Compared to non-divorced men, men who have experienced a divorce have a 250 percent higher mortality rate. Divorced men are more prone to several diseases including common colds, cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and suicide.

Stephen Vertucci, a Colorado divorce attorney with over 16 years of experience, points out that post-divorce health effects don’t discriminate on age, social status, income, or any other factor; “I have seen the toll divorce can on even the most disciplined personality,” he says.

It’s important to note that health issues are not always physical – they are mental too. Recognizing extreme changes in behavior is just as important as recognizing the signs of a heart attack. Common physical and mental health issues men face after a divorce are:


Physical Health

Common Colds

Starting off small and non-life threatening, men who have gone through a divorce are more likely to have weakened immune systems. This is typically due to stress and anxiety, but can also be attributed to change of diet and lifestyle associated with the loss of a partner. A weakened immune system makes a person more susceptible to illnesses, such as the common cold or flu.

Heart Attack

The emotional shock of ending a relationship – especially a long one – can lead to several cardiovascular changes, many for the worst. Risk of heart attack in divorced men increases significantly when they have been divorced two or more time – which leads to a 30 percent increased risk.


Mental Health


“Depression, anger, resentment, and bitterness are all common emotions a party of a divorce may go through,” says Vertucci. Divorced men are 10 times more likely than married men to undergo psychiatric care, and have a 39 percent higher suicide rate than their non-divorced counterparts.


Anxiety is also common in people that suffer from depression. After a divorce, men are statistically more likely to lose custody of their children and pay child support or alimony, which can add stress about finances and a relationship with their children to the equation.

Substance Abuse

Depression and anxiety in divorced men typically cause them to resort to riskier behavior, such as abuse of alcohol and drugs. A common coping mechanism, alcohol and cigarettes are the top outlets divorcees use to self-medicate. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are almost twice as many smokers among divorced and separated men compared to non-divorced men.

A common thread among post-divorce health issues in men is the refusal to seek help at an early stage. Whether that be a medical doctor, therapist, or other health professional, getting help early on can stop the issue from snowballing into a larger one – and could potentially save a life. Vertucci also notes that, “Utilizing a strong support system of extended family, friends, your church or seeking out therapy will help one develop the patience, focus, and understanding you will need to enter into and embrace the next stage of your life…”

Knowing the risks of common issues men experience after a divorce can help bring attention to warning signs, and encourage men to get the help they deserve. It’s also beneficial in letting men know they are not alone in their struggles – millions of men are fighting the same battles. Similarly, family members and loved ones can watch out for the warning signs and step in when needed.

 Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Lauren Bennett

View posts by Lauren Bennett
Lauren Bennett is a freelance writer from San Diego, CA who specializes in educating the community on family, legal, and health-related matters. Check out and follow her on Twitter @Laur_Ben.

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