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Divorce Can Cause Lasting Decline in Life Satisfaction

Study contradicts research showing that time eventually heals all wounds

TUESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Although life satisfaction gradually rebounds in the years following a divorce, it doesn't return to baseline levels, contradicting research showing that time eventually heals all wounds, according to a study published in the December issue of Psychological Science.

Richard E. Lucas, Ph.D., of Michigan State University in East Lansing, analyzed a representative sample of participants from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, a longitudinal study of more than 30,000 respondents that began in 1984. The 817 sample subjects were followed for up to 18 years to study reaction and adaptation to divorce.

Lucas found that some adaptation occurred in the years immediately following divorce. But he determined that life satisfaction levels, based on an 11-point scale, remained between 0.22 and 0.34 points below baseline even years after divorce.

"This study adds to a small but growing body of research showing that adaptation is not always quick and complete," the author concludes. "Some people may never adapt to some life events, at least not without intervention. The challenge for future research will be to identify which events cause lasting changes and why."

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