Stress and depression related to divorce have been known to exacerbate existing health problems or cause the emergence of new ones. People at or over the age of 50 are at a heightened risk for mental and physical health problems when they divorce later in life. In Illinois, the process begins with the filing of a divorce petition, and the stress may begin earlier than that. According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, legal uncoupling is the second most stressful life event that is commonly experienced.

The rate of divorce for people at or over 50 in the U.S. has doubled since the year 1990, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “gray divorce”. While the rate for people younger than 50 is still much higher, it is not increasing dramatically. The divorce rate for people under age 40 has fallen since 1990 and the rate for people in their 40s has risen only slightly.

Among the potential health consequences of gray divorce are depression, anxiety and other psychological distress. Ongoing research indicates that gray divorce may be associated with increased depressive symptoms. People may experience post traumatic stress disorder. Chronic stress, if left untreated, might increase their risk of insomnia, high blood pressure, obesity, a weakened immune system or heart disease.

Divorcing later in life might mean the person loses his or her primary caregiver, and the financial consequences can make life more difficult as well. For people in this situation, an attorney might be able to help. An attorney with experience in family law might attempt to negotiate the terms of property division in order to help ensure the client’s financial security after the dissolution.