These days, divorce is much more commonplace and less stigmatized than it was in the past. Even so, there are often headlines in the media that warn people of the “dangers of divorce.” Some studies show that divorced people are not as happy or healthy as those who never married or those who still are married. However, sensationalized headlines can be misleading.

The truth is that divorce doesn’t have to mean a life of misery for you and others here in West Virginia who choose it. The reasons that it may seem as though divorced people are miserable are much more complicated than what a study may seem to say. If you’re considering getting a divorce, rest assured that you can live a full and happy life. Here is what you need to know about divorce and how it may affect your future emotional, physical and mental health.

Flaws in divorce studies

It is true that many studies show that people who divorce are less happy and healthy than married or never-married peers. If you look deeper into the study results, however, these differences can be very small. One study showed that married people were only 1.7% healthier than divorced people. What’s more, over 90% of people in both categories rated themselves as having excellent health. The difference is small to begin with, and the overwhelming majority of respondents put themselves in the healthy category.

Even studies that report low levels of happiness or health in divorced people don’t show the full picture. Those studies show the averages across a wide swath of people. You might be the person who exists outside of those averages, perfectly happy and healthy in spite of – or sometimes because of – your divorce.

Time heals many wounds

The passage of time can help divorced people in multiple ways as well. First, the more time that has passed since the divorce, the happier many people say they feel. One study found that most people reported increased happiness nine months after their divorce, compared to what they felt soon after it happened. The second way time can help is in changing attitudes. Society is less likely to look down on divorce these days. This can help a divorced person feel more accepted, loved and, you guessed it, happy.

For many people, divorce is the right choice and can be the start of a better life. If you’re considering divorce, one of the best things you can do for yourself is work with a professional who understands the many ways this event may impact your life. It could be the best thing you do for your continued health and happiness.