HSC3102 The Meaning of Health
Dr. Linda Abbott
The Mental Health Benefits of Marriage
Over the past few years, there have been numerous studies conducted on the positive health benefits of a healthy marriage, and its physical effects on individual health. A recent study, found in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, took a look at whether a healthy marriage benefited those who suffered with depression prior to getting married. The results indicated that, on average, those who were depressed prior to marrying reported larger psychological benefits from marriage than those who were not depressed.
Married people tend to have higher levels of well-being. This is measured by the lower rates of chronic depression, substance abuse, and alcoholism. These people are compared to those who have never been married, divorced, widowed, or separated individuals.
Overall, depressed men and women both experienced greater psychological benefits than their nondepressed and continually unmarried counterparts (Williams, 2003).
Through the years there has been a lot of research on the benefits of a healthy marriage. Until recent years, not much consideration has been taken on how marriage affects previously depressed individuals. Could this be because it is thought that depression places demands on a marriage and negates the quality of that marriage? (Skinner, 2002)
We know that married people report higher levels of well-being than those that were never married, divorced, widowed, or separated. Other factors that influence this outcome are the length of the marriage, the strength of social support from friends and relatives, as well as economic wealth (Frech & Williams, June 2007).
There may be reason to believe that depressed men and women will not receive the same benefits of marriage as non-depressed men and women. This could be due simply to the fact that depression and distress put a strain on the relationship as well as complicate the communication between the partners within the marriage (Segrin & Heather Powell, 2003).
Even if depressed spouses receive the same love and attention from a healthy marriage, they may not be able to enjoy the psychological benefits from this support. A depressed spouse may require more caring and support than the other spouse is willing or able to give. They may also be unable to give support in return. (Segrin & Heather Powell, 2003)
One may think that because depressed people are more likely to have trouble communicating, and tend to have a more negative view of intimate relationships, they may experience worse marital quality, therefore, receiving fewer benefits.
“Substantial evidence indicates that depression is associated with high levels of social isolation and in turn diminishes psychological well-being.” (Williams, 2003) Marriage on the other hand encourages social interaction and typically is responsible for the growth of a strong social support. This could be a companionship that would offer a significant benefit to a depressed person.
It appears that previously depressed individuals actually benefit substantially from marriage. Marriage has a unique effect on a person even when the presence of depression is seen prior to the marriage (Frech & Williams, June 2007).
Findings in the study done in Journal of Health and Social Behavior indicated that the previously depressed actually received greater benefits from marriage then their non-depressed counterparts. These results were greatly dependent upon the quality of the marriage.
In addition to the emotional support from the spouse in a satisfying marriage, it was shown that marriage also provides a day to day companionship and lowers social isolation. Marriage can also link individuals to a greater network of friends and relatives (Frech & Williams, June 2007).
Marriage seems to provide a depressed person with...
References: Frech, A., & Williams, K. (June 2007). Depression and the Pyschological Benefits of Entering into Marriage. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 48, 2; Proquest; pg. 149.
Segrin, C., & Heather Powell, M. G. (2003). Symptoms of Depression, Relational Quality, and Loneliness in Dating Relationships. Personal Relationships, 10: 25-36.
Skinner, K. B. (2002). Cohabitation, Marriage, and Remarriage: A Comparison of Relationship Quality over Time. Journal of Family Issues, 74-90.
Williams, K. (2003). A Contemporary Examination of Gender, Marriage, and Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 470-87.
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