In our society we often think that men are emotionally stronger than women. Men are thought to be able to carry emotional burdens much better. So it is thought that women are far more distraught by a divorce than men. But a recent study published in the Journal of Men’s Health says that, in fact, men take divorce particularly hard. Depression, substance abuse and mortality rates are all higher for men after a divorce says the study. Men also generally have a lack of social support compared to their female counterparts. Due to the incredible stress and anxiety, misplaced anger, depression and all kinds of other psychological conditions that can arise or be aggravated by divorce, a whole host of behavioral and psychological disorders may result. Other studies have shown that single men live a shorter lifespan and have more health problems than married men. But this is the first time that we have seen divorce as a significant contributing factor to men’s health outcomes. The researchers said that these results highlight the need for intervening and getting men the help that they need when they are going through a divorce in order to head off or mitigate any divorce related health issues. More studies have to be conducted to find out exactly what contributes to such health risks to determine what specific psychological and medical therapies can be administered to help men cope with divorce and mitigate the negative health impacts.
According to Ridwan Shabsigh, M.D., “Popular perception, and many cultures as well as the media present men as tough, resilient, and less vulnerable to psychological trauma than women. However, this article serves as a warning signal not to follow such unfounded perceptions.” Men suffer serious psychological trauma after divorce. Instead of ignoring the issue, we should be more aware and help men to express themselves, their feelings on the divorce and ways to manage negative emotional consequences. According to Shabsigh, “The fact is that men get affected substantially by psychological trauma and negative life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, war, and bereavement”. “Research is urgently needed to investigate the prevalence and impact of such effects and to develop diagnosis and treatment guidelines for practitioners.” If there is a man in your life going through divorce offer him an ear. He may not take it, or he may ponder it and get back to you. Don’t force the issue. Just let him know you are there for him if he wants to talk or spend time together. Lots of people wallow in self-misery during a divorce. Having a little time to reflect is a good thing. But if you notice that weeks and months are passing and he’s still a home body, why not convince him to have a night out?
If you are a man going through a divorce, don’t suffer in silence because you think you have to. Reach out to your friends and family. That’s what they are there for. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. In fact, asking for help when you need it can be one of the bravest things you can do. The reason men cope worse than women, many psychologists believe, is because women often have stronger social networks and women open up about their feelings and seek out emotional support. That doesn’t mean you have to do or say anything that is against your personality. But instead, find ways you are comfortable with to reach out. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your comfort zone a little however. Avoid negative ways such as alcohol and illicit drugs to deal with stress. Journaling, exercise, watching funny movies, having coffee with a friend, meditation and yoga are all great ways to relieve stress. One thing yoga classes are full of is women; often single women. Still, don’t start dating until you are ready. A good rule of thumb is, if all you can see yourself doing is complaining about your ex-wife, or comparing your date to her, then you’re not ready to date. Some people feel better after a rebound relationship, some worse. Studies have shown that a rebound could help increase self-esteem. Do what feels right and make sure you are always safe. If you are struggling with post-divorce depression, a very common experience, seek help from your physician or a mental health professional. For more advice, read A Man’s Guide to Surviving Divorce: How to Cope & Move On with Life by R.L. Blackwood.