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The Relationship Between Marriage and Depression

Marriage can be a great source of joy in people's lives, but it can also be lead to anger, disappointment, and depression. We don't need research to understand that the type of marriage people have is a huge factor in determining quality of life.

Susan Heitler, PhD and author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two, has a theoretical model for how depression forms in a marriage. "Interactions in which one partner takes a dominant and the other a one-down or submissive role are likely to trigger depression in the partner who feels the lessor power or victim role." (Heitler, 1990). Her theory was recently confirmed by research on marriage and depression by B. Fink and A. Shapiro.

Here are the top 9 research findings on marriage and depression:

#1: Marriage problems definitely play a significant role in the development of depression.

#2: Married couples who fight a lot, or have a lot of tension in their marriage are 10 to 25 times more likely to experience depression than single people or people in happy marriages.

#3: Depression treatment for one spouse alone is unlikely to be effective if the marital tension and fighting remains high.

#4: 50% of women taking one particular anti-depressant medication reported that marital conflict and unhappiness were the main contributors of their feelings of depression.

#5: People whose marriages improved also experienced a decrease in their depression symptoms.

#6: Women who took antidepressant medication and experienced an improvement in their mood found that the depression returned quickly if the marriage problems continued, despite the continued use of the medication.

#7: Marriage conflict and unhappiness typically occur before the onset of depression symptoms.

#8. Depression symptoms continue as long as the marital conflict continues.

#9: People who use coping skills such as drinking, distancing, venting, or avoiding each other are all the more likely to experience depression.

These are interesting findings that confirm what many have suspected for quite some time. The good news is, though, that effective problem-solving in response to marital conflict can greatly increase the emotional state of people experiencing depression.

Many couples who committed to a marriage communication skills program gained better communication and conflict resolution skills, which helped them regain their connection and changed the direction of their marriage.

The couples who had success shared specific attribute as well: both spouses were committed to the process and genuinely wanted to remedy their skills deficit in communication and conflict resolution. These couples did so with the help of a professional marriage therapist.

So, even if your marriage is troubled, it is possible to turn it around if your troubles are due to lack of communication and conflict resolution skills. It's important to realize that and take action before it's too late.

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(Source: Marriage: For Better or For Worse)

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