How Real is Divorce Stress Syndrome?


Stress, as anybody divorcing in Pasadena knows, comes with the territory of ending a marriage. Even under the best circumstances, divorce can be an emotional, stressful and tiring time. In the worst case scenarios, many health professionals say divorce can lead to serious medical and emotional problems. Since actress Demi Moore's recent hospitalization following her breakup to Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher, divorce stress syndrome has become a buzzed-about topic. But how real is divorce stress syndrome and how do you avoid it?

Panic attacks, crippling back pain and insomnia are reportedly some of the dangerous and painful symptoms of divorce stress syndrome. But is it all in our minds? Researchers at Michigan State University say health problems caused by divorce are very real. A new study shows that over a 15-year period, those who divorced experienced a more rapid decline in their health than those who remained married. Other studies link the stress of divorce to cardiovascular issues, mental health problems and even breast cancer. American doctors have even cited divorce as one of the causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition commonly associated with victims of accidents and soldiers in war zones.

Experts say that quickly facing the emotional pain and issues brought on by a divorce helps reduce the chances of physical side effects.

"Divorce can affect us emotionally, mentally and physically, beyond our expectations," says Dr. David Pastrana, a legal professor and author. "As you mourn the death of a loved one, so you encounter divorce grief. Recognizing these feelings and acknowledging that you must go through a transitional healing process is a good place to start. Once you've understood them, you're on your way to overcoming them."

Pastrana recommends working with a family therapist, grief counselor or support group immediately following a divorce. In the end, physicians believe that while divorce stress syndrome is very real, it's very treatable with therapy and implementing positive activities.