Why divorcing in your 30s could be bad for your health as young couples hit hardest by 'sudden shift'
A broken heart is bad for you – particularly when you are in your thirties, a new study, out today, reveals.
Divorce hits the health of young people harder than it hits couples who have been together for a long time, showing that older people are more capable of dealing with the stress of a separation.
Study author Hui Liu, an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, looked at the health of 1,282 people who took part in a 15-year lifestyle study in the U.S.
Who will fare better Katy Perry and Russell Brand (left) and Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar recently got divorced
She measured the gap in health status between those who remained married during the study period and those who divorced at certain ages.
Ms Liu found the gap in health was greater among younger people.
This suggests that couples like Katy Perry and Russell Brand or Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries may fare worse than older divorcees Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, or Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar who separated when they were a little older.
Among people born in the 1950s, those who got divorced between the ages of 35 and 41 reported more health problems compared to those who got divorced in their late 40s or who remained married.
She said the negative impact on health was bigger for so-called baby boomers than it was for older generations.
Ms Liu said: 'I would have expected divorce to carry less stress for the younger generation, since divorce is more prevalent for them.'
She said this may be because the pressure to marry and stay married was stronger for older generations and so those who did divorce may have been unhappily married for a period of time. They may even have felt relieved when they did divorce.
Broken hearts can be hard to heal: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries filed divorce papers after just 72 days of marriage
Overall, the study found that those who get divorced experience a more rapid health decline than those who remain married.
However, those who remained divorced during the entire study period showed no difference than those who remained married.
Ms Liu said: 'This suggests it is not the status of being married or divorced, per se, that affects health, but instead is the process of transitioning from marriage to divorce that is stressful and hurts health.'
'It’s clear to me that we need more social and family support for the younger divorced groups.
'This could include divorce counselling to help people handle the stress or offering marital therapy or prevention programmes to maintain marital satisfaction.'
The research appeared in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
Amanda McAlister, National Head of Family Law at Russell Jones & Walker said: 'In my experience as a divorce lawyer, it is rare to find a client who doesn't find divorce stressful to some degree.
'I agree however with Assistant Professor Hui Lui's suggestion that people getting divorced later in life often feel hugely relieved that they are no longer trapped in an unhappy marriage, one they may have stayed in purely because of the now largely obsolete social pressure to stay married.
'Certainly I have noticed an increasing popularity for “silver divorces” as the 50 plus generation realises that there's no longer any social stigma attached to being a divorcee.'