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Study: Bad marriage can lead to major depression

Few San Antonio readers are likely to be surprised by the findings of a new study on divorce which shows that bad marriages can lead to major depression.

The University of Michigan study tracked nearly 5,000 American adults for a decade to find out how the level of support they receive from their spouses affected their mental health.

Participants were interviewed by the research team in the 1990s and then surveyed again a decade later. Questions posed by researchers included the following:

  • "How often does he or she criticize you?"
  • "How much can you open up to him or her if you need to talk about your worries?"
  • "How much can you rely on him or her for help if you have a serious problem?"
  • "How often does he or she let you down when you are counting on him or her?"

Researchers found that the quality of an individual's relationship with their husband or wife can predict the likelihood of a bout with serious depression.

People in strained relationships with unsupportive spouses were dramatically more likely to develop depression, while those who were single were at no increased risk.

“Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression,” the psychiatrist who is lead author of the study said. “This is the first time that a study has identified this link in the general population.”

About one in six Americans experiences serious depression at some point in life; a condition that increases risks of stroke, coronary artery disease and cancer.

The psychiatrist said doctors should now begin to ask patients about the quality of their relationship with their spouse, rather than merely asking if they have a spouse.

Source: Huffington Post, "Relationship Study Finds Link Between Depression And Unsupportive Spouses," May 2, 2013

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