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Coping With “Gray Divorce” Is Tougher On Women Over The Age Of 50 Than Men, And Women Are More Likely To Use Antidepressants, According To A New Study

shurkin_son - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

A new study conducted by researchers in China suggests that coping with a “gray divorce” can be tougher for women over 50 compared to men.

The findings revealed that older men tend to move into new relationships more smoothly following the end of a late-life marriage and are also less likely to use antidepressants than their female counterparts of a similar age.

The study did note a rise in the use of antidepressants among both genders in the period before and just after a divorce, separation, or the passing of a partner. Still, the consumption of these medications was higher among women than men.

These results underscore the rising “gray divorce” trend in wealthier nations, which is attributed to aging populations and a surge in re-partnering. Additionally, the findings show that depression in older adults is relatively prevalent, with an estimated 10% to 15% of those over 55 experiencing clinically significant symptoms of depression.

The researchers analyzed 228,644 people between the ages of 50 and 70 who had gone through a divorce, breakup, or the loss of a partner, focusing on the effects of starting a new relationship among those who did. Out of this group, 53,460 people entered a new relationship within two to three years.

Within this group, men were more likely to find a new partner after the loss of a spouse or the end of a relationship compared to women. Antidepressant use also increased for both men and women around the time of a partner’s death or throughout the breakup process, with a more significant rise observed in women.

In particular, the study found that antidepressant use increased by roughly 5% in men and 7% in women during the six months prior to a divorce. Then, for breakups, there was a 3% rise in usage for men and a 6% rise for women.

Men generally reverted to their antidepressant usage levels from before the breakup within a year; meanwhile, women’s use continued to escalate from the first year.

Now, the researchers did observe a modest decline in antidepressant usage among individuals who entered new relationships. But, this decrease was short-lived, with usage returning to prior levels or rising again two years afterward.

shurkin_son – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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