According to most studies, the rates of divorce only increase the longer couples are together. Indeed, the bulk of divorces now occur in our middle years, between 40 and 60, which apparently, is already a psychologically vulnerable time for most.
Mental health of the 40-60 age group
Mental health provided to this group is often coined, “mid-life mental health” or “middle-aged psychiatry.” Over the past few decades, it has developed into a specialty. And, as studies have shown, this group is already particularly vulnerable with pronounced suicide rates throughout all Western countries, including the United States.
Men are particularly vulnerable
Studies consistently show suicide and depression rates are higher among men in the 40-60 age group. In a study of married and unmarried people in this age group, it was found that unmarried men were 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide. This increase in suicide rates among the unmarried were also seen in women, but not to such a high degree.
Much harder on divorcing men
Several studies have noted that divorce can be especially hard on men, acting as an acute stressor that leads to depression and increased rates of suicide. These studies note that women tend to have a stronger social support network, pre- and post-divorce. They also note that men routinely lose primary custody of their children to their former female spouse, which can exacerbate mental health issues. One study of the United States and Canada found that 80% of custodial parents were mothers. As a result, men, especially fathers, deal with severe social isolation and loneliness that is combined with feelings of failure and shame. This combination of acute stressors can create a downward spiral.
Take steps now to protect mental health
For Nutley, New Jersey, couples thinking about divorce, take steps now to protect mental health. This can start with couples and individual counseling to work through internal issues and help combat negative emotions that will occur post-divorce. Another step is to try and lessen the stress of the divorce itself through mediation or some other alternative divorce model. The key is to prepare now to ensure mental health later.