Does divorce cause emotional and physical pain? Science says yes

Most of our readers have experienced the sting of breaking up with someone who you cared for deeply. Whether it was just a boyfriend or girlfriend, or it was a husband or wife of several years, most people experience a rush of emotion that can be difficult to put into words. For most people, the best way to explain it is that it just hurts.

But do you know why it hurts? Not in the figurative sense of the word but the literal sense? According to a 2011 study conducted by several researchers from the University of Michigan, Columbia University and the University of Colorado, people can actually experience physical pain after a breakup because the same areas of the brain that activate for physical pain, also activate when we think of an unwanted breakup. This results in that “aching” feeling many people experience after a separation or divorce.

As a recent NPR article points out, other studies suggest that a breakup can also disrupt body functions as well, such as appetite, sleep and even our immune systems. Coupled with the physical pain the breakup is triggering in our brains, it’s easy to see why the NPR article described a separation as both a mental exercise as well as a physical one.

After reading this, you might be asking yourself: how does this help people here in Massachusetts? By recognizing the fact that you could experience mental as well as physical pain during your divorce, it may lead you to seek help from a therapist who can help you reign in your feelings so that they don’t affect your divorce negotiations. Using a lawyer as an advocate can also help because they will be able to address the situation rationally and help you get the best resolution with the least amount of frustration.