London: Men bounce back more quickly than women after the death of a friend because they are less close to them, a study has found.

The first long-term analysis of those bereaved by the loss of a close friend found women suffer more emotionally and socially, and are more likely to endure mental health problems than men.

It takes women longer to recover because they share tighter “socio-emotional” bonds, the study of 9,586 people found. The effects can be felt for up to four years.

But while society generally understands the impact of a family bereavement, the effects of the death of friends are often ignored, the researchers at the University of Stirling said.

Dr Liz Forbat, an associate professor of social sciences, said: “There are pronounced declines in the health and well-being of people who’d had a friend die in the previous four years, yet employers, GPs and the community aren’t focused on providing support to bereaved friends … the death of a friend is a form of disenfranchised grief — one not taken so seriously.”

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, also found evidence that the death of a close friend lowers a person’s satisfaction with their health.