"Divorce can kill," say Jacqueline Simenauer and David Carroll in their survey of American singles. "During the first year after divorce, one out of five single men and one out of three women consider suicide.
"Singles and professionals alike acknowledge that the first year after divorce is the most disorienting, turbulent and uncertain time in a single's life. This turbulence is not entirely adverse, however. In fact, divorced respondents frequently say that feelings of frightening disorientation and giddy independence--and thus of depression and euphoria--often come side-by-side in surprising juxtaposition."
Since divorce is "both an emancipating and an inhibiting event," both positive and negative experiences may follow. In addition to the "disorientation and sense of loss that follows a break-up," comes freedom "from what was almost invariably an untenable personal relationship," say Simenauer and Carroll. "With this freedom naturally comes a decrease in mental and hence, physical stress."
In their study of singles who have undergone this "First-Year Syndrome," the researchers discovered that in the first year after divorce:
* Most drink and smoke more than when married, but do not take drugs.
* One out of four men and one third of women experience sleep problems.
* Energy levels tend to increase, especially for women.
* Some weight change usually occurs--most often weight loss.
* Health improves more often than deteriorates.
* A sense of well-being, self-respect and personal growth may be heightened.
* Sexual responsiveness and activity may increase.
* A lack of sexual desire is not uncommon.
* Relationships with children tend to improve or remain the same.
* There is often a greater commitment to profession and earning capacity.