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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 15:56 UK
Headroom - dealing with divorce
By Linda Serck
BBC Berkshire reporter

Arguing couple
Stressful relationships can be bad for your health

Dealing with divorce is named as the second most stressful 'life event'.

As part of BBC mental health campaign Headroom, BBC Radio Berkshire looks at how divorce can affect your well-being.

Tune in from 7.15am on Monday 5 October 2009 to hear from a Reading Relate counsellor and a case study from Reading divorcee Anne Zebedee.

"It hits you right in the gut," she says. "Deciding to divorce in theory is one thing, but when it actually happens it is a blow."

The 65-year-old adds: "I can understand why people get depressed and down about it - I did myself."

In 1999, 27,800 people between ages 35 to 49 divorced
In 1999, 12,500 people between ages 50 to 60 divorced
In 2006, 29,800 people between ages 35 to 49 divorced
In 2006, 14,800 people between ages 50 to 60 divorced

According to a respected study from 1967 called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), divorce comes second to the stressful event of a spouse dying, but comes before being fired from work or going to prison.

BBC Radio Berkshire has been looking at the divorce statistics for the over 50s as part of the BBC's mental health series called Headroom.

Figures show that this age group are increasingly heading to the divorce courts when their relationship flounders.

According to the Office for National Statistics divorce rates among the over 50s have risen by around 20% in the last ten years.

Dubbed as a 'life stage change' by researchers, this increase in the 'retired couple' category has been put down to people reassessing their lives and relationships when they approach retirement.

Another factor is that couples find they no longer get on when faced with each other's constant company.

Anne says her third divorce was just as stressful as the first.

"It knocks your ego, even when you're the person asking for the divorce you have doubts and you often wonder whether you're doing the right thing.

"You worry about the children obviously and how it's going to affect them.

"And of course the costs. The costs now are horrendous, even if you do it yourself through the courts.

"Then you have to go to speak to solicitors and give all the details. It's quite embarrassing sometimes."

The 18-month slog to sell their home also added to the stress.

While the final divorce came as a relief and the couple remained friends before they were legally separated, Anne says it can be hard to accept.

"You feel almost abandoned so to speak. If you've been together for a long time you become like one being, so it's definitely a shock to the system."

For more information and advice, visit the BBC's Headroom website and the BBC Relationships page on divorce.

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