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Separation and divorce can hit your health hard and even kill you

Harold Mandel's picture
A couple getting divorced

Separation and divorce are difficult for anyone. It has been observed that even if a relationship was not going well for awhile the emotional adjustment to being alone again is generally hard to take for each member of the couple. Research shows the cost of separation and divorce on your health goes further than the emotional turmoil which is anticipated to be encountered. Sleep problems, high blood pressure, and even death may be associated with separation and divorce.

Sleep complaints predict increases in resting blood pressure after marital separation

It has been observed by researchers that sleep complaints predict increases in resting blood pressure after marital separation reported Health Psychology. It has been known that marital separation and divorce are linked to many negative health outcomes. However, few studies have examined the psychophysiological mechanisms which may give rise to these outcomes.

In this study changes in resting blood pressure as a function of sleep complaints is investigated in recently divorced adults. It was concluded by the researchers that in recently separated adults increased sleep complaints may predict increased risk for future increases in blood pressure.

Divorce is associated with significant negative health effects

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Divorced people who experience persistent sleep problems may also be at risk for potentially harmful rises in blood pressure reports the University of Arizona in a discussion of this research. There has been a growing body of research which has associated divorce to significant negative health effects and even to early death. However, few studies have looked at why such a connection may exist.

The researchers have said divorce associated sleep troubles may be partially to blame for the negative health effects experienced at this difficult time. University of Arizona associate professor of psychology David Sbarra says in the initial few months after a separation sleep problems are most likely pretty normal. This is a period of adjustment which people can generally cope with well. However, sleep problems which persist for an extended period may point to different problems.

People with persistent sleep problems after divorce may be depressed

People who are having persistent sleep problems after a divorce are potentially becoming depressed. These people are struggling harder than usual to get their life back to normal again and they are particularly vulnerable to health problems. Participants in this study showed increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure later on as a function of previous sleep problems. Basically, earlier sleep problems predicted increases in resting blood pressure over time.

It was observed that the longer peoples' sleep problems persisted following their separation, the more likely those problems were to have an adverse effect on their blood pressure. After a sustained period of time of 10 weeks or so there appears to be a cumulative bad effect on blood pressure from poor sleep. This can be a particularly serious problem in people who have high blood pressure to begin with.

Clearly people who are experiencing separation and divorce should be careful about their own health. If the stressors from this difficult time lead to long-term sleep problems proper intervention should be sought before dangerous rises in blood pressure and possibly even death follow.

Natural interventions such as meditation, daily exercise, good nutrition, fresh air and sunshine may help. If this problem hits it's probably a good idea to consult with a natural health oriented primary care physician or naturopath to make certain the right kind of help is offered to help you get back to healthy sleeping patterns. Unless absolutely necessary on an acute basis sleeping pills and other drugs may only make this problem a great deal more serious and have the potential to cause death.