Married and Depressed? There May Be a Connection

Big surprise.  Being married can make you more likely to get depressed.

All I wanted, when I met my husband, was to get married.  (It only took 10 years.)  But once we were, I didn't like it quite as much.  For one thing, I now had a mother-in-law.  And for another, it seemed so, well, permanent. I can remember driving home from work one day and thinking, well, I've made it through a month.

A new study has found that marital stress may make people more vulnerable to depression, according to a recent study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and their colleagues, newswise.com reports.

I suppose it's a no-brainer but people who experience chronic marital stress are less able to savor positive experiences, a hallmark of depression, the Web sie notes. They are also more likely to report other depressive symptoms.

“This is not an obvious consequence, if you will, of marital stress, but it’s one I think is extraordinarily important because of the cascade of changes that may be associated,” newswise quotes study leader Richard Davidson, UW-Madison William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the UW’s Waisman Center. “This is the signature of an emotional style that reveals vulnerability to depression.”

Studies have long shown that married people are, in general, happier and healthier than single people, and even tend to live longer.  But marriage can also be one of the most significant sources of long-lasting social stress. 

I can remember when we were going through some rough periods (quite a few, actually), especially after our son was born, when I wanted desperately to leave but because I wasn't working, didn't have the money to go anywhere.  We struggled for about five years, and I was so incredibly unhappy.

I don't really know how it all turned around.  I went back to work, which helped, and our son grew older and more independent, and suddenly, I enjoyed being with my husband again and we even used that four-letter "l" word a couple of times.

Among other tests, study participants were exposed to both positive and negative images. Those who reported higher marital stress had shorter-lived responses to positive images than those reporting more satisfaction in their unions. There was no significant difference in the timing of negative responses.

“To paraphrase the bumper sticker: ‘Stress happens,’” says Davidson. “There is no such thing as leading a life completely buffered from the slings and arrows of everyday life.”

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