“Gray divorce”: separating late in life has a greater impact on women’s mental health

“Gray divorce”: separating late in life has a greater impact on women’s mental health

It can be more difficult for a woman to cope with a breakup, bereavement or divorce, especially from a certain age. This is the conclusion drawn from a study, which compares men and women facing divorce or bereavement. The point of view on the question of Amélie Boukhobza, psychologist.

Can the consumption of antidepressants be an indicator of an individual’s mental health and more precisely of their ability to adapt to painful life events?

It is based on this information that researchers tried to understand, through a study, how men and women experience divorce or bereavement, from the age of 50.

Divorces, separations, deaths lead to consumption of antidepressants

In this study, scientists looked at the use of antidepressants by 228,644 Finns, aged 50 to 70, between the years 1996 and 2018. In the cohort, there were 85,031 bereaved participants, 75,009 divorced and 68,604 having stopped living with a partner following a breakup.

Subsequently, in the total group, 53,460 people formed a new relationship within 2 to 3 years, on average. For 31,238, this took place after a breakup, for 15,958 participants, after a divorce and for 6,264 after a death.

Women more concerned by the consumption of antidepressants

By studying their consumption of antidepressants, the scientists therefore wanted to observe the way in which these life events were experienced by the participants. Not surprisingly, antidepressant use increased before and after marital dissolution. By comparing men and women, experts found a more pronounced increase in consumption among the latter. A trend observed for all types of separation.

Another surprising fact observed by scientists: after getting back into a relationship, women tended to consume less antidepressants, but this does not last over time. A “honeymoon” effect suppose the scientists, who underline one of the limits of this work: it is an observational study, which does not make it possible to establish the exact causes of what they observe.

Why are women affected more than men?

To better understand the phenomenon described, TipsForWomens interviewed psychologist Amélie Boukhobza who puts forward several reasons explaining this difficulty in experiencing a “gray divorce”, a separation or bereavement, for women over 50 years old.

It is clear that major life events, such as divorce, loss of a partner or break-up, can have an impact on individuals’ mental health. Particularly in women as the study indicates. first notes the specialist.

This gender difference in response may be attributed to a variety of sociocultural and psychological factors. Women are, for example, more likely to express their emotions and seek support, which may make them more likely to feel and express distress in response to these life events. adds the specialist.

“Bereavement or divorce will be more destabilizing for women”

From a socio-economic perspective, women may be more vulnerable to the economic consequences of a breakup, divorce or death of a partner. Which can cause even more stress“. According to Amélie Boukhobza, societal norms and traditional gender roles can also have an influence on how women handle these situations.

The pressure to maintain family unity or the stigma associated with divorce, particularly among those over 50, can further exacerbate stress.” underlines the expert. Finally, for some women, marital and family identity can be very constitutive. “As a result, a divorce, breakup or loss of a partner can be profoundly destabilizing and impact mental health. she concludes.

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