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Bad marriages linked to depression

Photo of Karen Lavin


Marriage can be a source of strength and stability for many Illinoisans. A partner can provide fun and companionship during the good times, and wisdom and encouragement during trying times. Unfortunately, sometimes a relationship can be the source of those trying times. That connection was recently reinforced by researchers.

Researchers found a link between marriage and health. In what should come as no surprise for Illinoisans who have gone through a divorce, good marriages improve mental health while bad marriages make it worse.

That conclusion came after the researchers studied over 100 couples. At the start of the study, researchers had the couples fill out questionnaires gauging marital stress. For example, the questionnaire asked how often the other partner was a source of tension and how often the other partner let them down.

Years later, researchers followed up on the questionnaire. Researchers assessed the partners for depression and marital stress. Then two years after that, researchers gave the participants an emotional response test. The test featured participants viewing 90 images as they flashed on a computer screen. Researchers measured the participants emotional reactions to the images.

Extrapolating from those results, researchers noticed a trend: participants who had suffered chronic marital stress had trouble responding to positive stimuli. Failure to respond to positive stimuli is an indicator of depression.

The results should reinforce that staying in an unhappy marriage may not be a good choice. In fact, it may harm a person's health. Illinoisans going through that situation may want consider whether a divorce is right for them and, if so, what their next steps should be.

Source: Huffington Post, "Stressful Marriages Linked To Depression In New Study," Taryn Hillin, April 28, 2014

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