While marriage is linked to higher well-being in both men and women, divorce has a stronger negative impact on women’s well-being. Although both divorced and separated men and women have lower levels of well-being than their married counterparts, women are hit harder by divorce than men, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The Index also shows that divorced women are more likely to experience stress or use drugs to relax than their ex-husbands or married individuals.
Between January 2 and September 25, 2014, Gallup and Healthways conducted 131,159 interviews with American adults to measure well-being based on five elements: social, purpose, financial, community, and physical. Daily stress was measured as a component that affects each of the five elements.
Regardless of marital status, women were found more likely than men to experience daily stress. Additionally, divorced or separated individuals of both genders are more likely to carry stress than those who are married. However, separated women have significantly higher levels of daily stress than married women, with an increase in stress levels that is 55% greater than the stress increase experienced by divorced men. After divorce, men’s stress levels increased by 10.5 percentage points, while women’s increased by 16.3 points.
The survey also collected data on the use of drugs or prescription medications to relax. While 17% of adults who are in a relationship or single use drugs on an “almost every day” basis, the statistic jumps to 30% in adults who are separated or divorced. In both categories, women are slightly more likely to use drugs to relax than their male counterparts, but divorced women are significantly more likely to do so than divorced men.
Read more about Gallup’s findings here.
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