The Health Hazards of Being Single
People talk about having a good diet and
doing exercise as a way of staying mentally and physically fit
but it seems that simply being married can be just as important
to your health.
A national survey of 123,859 Americans
concluded that both men and women are less likely to report
having chronic health conditions if they are married than if
they are not. And, interestingly enough, married people also had
fewer accidents than their single friends, with divorced women
having the greatest number...nearly twice as many as married
In fact, unmarried women seem to run an
especially high risk in several other categories as well. There
were six times as many deaths from pneumonia and thirty percent
more physician visits among single and divorced women as there
were among their married peer group. Laboratory tests indicated
that the immune systems of unattached females were also more apt
to be faulty and this would, of course, make the occurrence of a
wide range of illnesses far more likely.
Comparing the number of sick days to an
individual's marital status gave the following results:
Married = 6.0 sick days per year
Single = 7.3 sick days per year
Divorced = 9.8 sick days per
Widowed = 9.8 sick days per year
A point of interest in reviewing these
figures involved a significant difference between widowed men
and widowed women. While widowed women suffered 11.8 sick days
per year, widowed men actually fared bettered than divorced men
and reported only 7.8 sick days per year.
While the actual numbers may vary from
one study to another, they always point in the same direction.
What's more, if you travel through time and space you will find
the same story...humans just naturally pair up. Clearly,
Mother Nature has spoken.
So how do you account for those who go
around wearing their single status like a chip on their
shoulder? A while back, I asked what I thought was a simple
enough question: Why might some people prefer going spouseless
even when they meet a seemingly ideal mate? I can think of
several reasons and none of them are slanderous or demeaning.
Yet there followed such a gnashing of teeth and foaming from the
mouth that I had to wonder what might provoke such an
exaggerated response. It's as though they felt being single is
some sort of slur.
Of course, it's not unusual for people
who don't have an answer to try and find something wrong with
the person who asked the question but this was all out of
proportion. One reader did send me twenty answers - talk about
perseveration - but when I went to the site he'd listed, it was
full of match making services. And there's even a lady who, as
far as I can tell, spends all her time writing about why it's OK
to be single. Who convinced her it wasn't? Anyone taking so much
as a single semester of Psych 101 who can't put a label on such
behavior doesn't deserve to get a passing grade.
As is so often written at the end of
articles found in professional journals, this is an area that
calls for more research.
Anyway, after compiling these data, the
national health agency that did the interviews suggested that
doctors should routinely inquire about their patient's marital
status. Being alone, it seems, can very definitely be hazardous
to your health...physical and mental.