Love Lose Live published 4 February 2016

Test your stress levels

The end of a marital relationship or cohabitation inevitably involves change. Change can be good or bad, welcome or unwelcome, but it is usually accompanied by stress. In the 1960s two psychologists researched the effect of certain major and not so major life events and changes and evaluated the effects of them on people, which has become known as the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory or Scale.

You can find it online and it makes fascinating reading. Life events within the past year are given scores: the death of a spouse 100 points; divorce 73 points; marriage 50; major change in living condition 25; major change in financial state 38; major change in the health or behaviour of a family member 44, etc. Families who are splitting up have to deal with a lot of change and inevitably will score highly. "So what?" you may ask. Well, the study found that a high points’ score adversely correlated with stress-induced health breakdown within two years of the life events. If you score 150–300 points, you have about a 50% chance of illness. If your score is over 300 points, the odds rise to 80%.

So this explains quite a lot: why couples experiencing separation may be ill, on medication, suffering from depression or feeling extremely under the weather. Their children will have their own scores too, so they won't be feeling too good either.

If you know someone going through breaking up who isn’t feeling very well, reassure them that it’s a temporary state of affairs and that it’s normal. At least that might remove the stress of worrying about it all!

Mary Banham-Hall, mediator and family lawyer, author of Love Lose Live: Divorce is a Rollercoaster, published 4 February 2016.