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Divorce Can Seriously Harm Men's Health

Update Date: Oct 01, 2013 03:29 PM EDT

Divorced men are more likely to die early as well as suffer from depression and substance abuse, according to new research.

Researchers also found that divorced men are more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke at an earlier age.

The study revealed that divorced and single men have a 39 percent higher suicide rate than their married counterparts. Researchers explain this may be because they are more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Researchers said more research is "urgently needed" to investigate the negative health impact of relationship break-ups.

The latest study focused on a 45-year-old white man who "endured a difficult divorce". The man had gone to his family doctor for the first time in ten years and complained of poor sleep and abdominal pain.

The man said that he drank "about a six-pack of beer a day," and had recently begun hating his job in middle management at a local bank.

He later reported having limited access to his children and paying a "significant amount of child support". He also said that his ex-wife "took all of our friends with her after the divorce".

Besides having a slightly enlarged liver and being somewhat overweight, researchers reported that the man's physical condition was "unremarkable".  They attributed his mild physical ailments and seemingly mild depressive state to anxiety and stress associated with his divorce.

Based on the latest study, researchers warn healthcare providers about treating conditions that have a psychological basis in divorce. They say that doctors should recommend nutrition, exercise and sleep education. Men with alcohol and substance abuse problems should be referred to treatment programs, therapists and or divorce support groups, according to researchers.

"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," researcher Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, MD, President of the International Society of Men's Health (ISMH); Chairman, Department of Surgery, St. Barnabas Hospital (Bronx, NY); and Professor of Clinical Urology, Cornell University, said in a news release.

"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," Shabsigh concluded.

The findings are published in the Journal of Men's Health.  

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