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KEEP THE STRESSES OF DIVORCE FROM HURTING YOUR HEALTH

If you have become suddenly single, you are going through a major life change affecting your emotions and even your physical health.

A San Diego navy doctor has completed some research dealing with recent major changes that are emotionally upsetting and their affect on your physical health. He concluded that "every illness is ‘psychosomatic’," not just the usual migraine headache or the usual colds, hives, constipation and related ailments usually following stressful situations. He rates your chances of coming down with an illness like tuberculosis, diabetes, heart disease, abdominal hernia and a long list of other major maladies as at least double if you have been subjected to major life changes. His research was based on over 4,000 people.

Those of us going through major life changes such as retirement, the death of a spouse, being fired from a job, etc., should take note. He has a scale that gives so many points for each type of major change in your life in the last year. The highest, 100 points for death of a spouse, 73 for divorce, 20 for changing residence, retirement 45, changing jobs to a different line of work 36, etc.

We have adopted this scale and are using it on adjusting to divorce. You can rate your recent life changes and if your total of stressful changes, according to the doctor, adds up to over 300, your chances of having a serious illness within two years run between 70 and 80 percent. His studies indicate that a lack of recent life changes is an excellent predictor of good health.

Probably you have many major life changes all tied up with your divorce, as it can be one of the most trying periods of your life. We want to make you aware of the effect these dramatic changes can have on your physical health within two years.

Let’s take a man who is newly divorced and add up his score, for example: 73 points for divorce; major changes in living conditions 25; major change in eating habits 15; change in residence 20; major change in financial state 38; a close friend dies 37; he has trouble with his boss 23 points. He gets a ticket for a traffic violation 11 points, and he has a major change in working conditions on his job for 20 more points. This all adds up to 228 points which figures out on the good doctor’s scale as his chances of becoming sick in the next two years are moderate, or about 51%.

If you will check back in your recollection of people you have known, you will recall that people that have had some runs of bad luck often have had more bad luck by coming down later with a major illness. You may have noted that people who retire and move and have major life changes often do not survive long; if one spouse dies this adds considerably, according to the doctor, to the chances of the surviving spouse developing a major illness.

So in relating this to your adjustment to single life, we offer some methods of easing you through the rather trying time of adjusting to some dramatic changes in your life. It is quite important to your physical as well as mental health to get through this adjustment as quickly as possible and get on with leading your new single life.

Some of the major changes that follow divorce are often as upsetting to the children as the divorce. If the wife gets the house, for example, we suggest she hang on to it at least a year or not to sell it at all if possible. This is one psychological factor (change of location) that can be eliminated or delayed in getting children through an adjustment period in addition to helping the parent have fewer changes at this time too.

Moving to a new school can cause some life changes for children at the same time when they have had enough to handle already with adjusting to the change in lifestyle on the breakup of a marriage. If the children develop an illness as a result of too many life changes at once, it just adds to the adjustment problem for the parent. (It never rains but what it pours or some such.)

Doctor Rahe feels that not only the chances of getting a disease but its severity can be predicted by how traumatic the life changes were. So our advice is that if you are one of the sudden singles, that you learn to get through the adjustment period with as little trauma as possible.