Marital stress leads to depression: Study

You may have several reasons not to muster courage for wedding yet. Now add another one in your list: depression.
You may have several reasons not to muster courage for wedding yet. Now add another one in your list: depression.
Marital stress may make people more vulnerable to depression, according to a recent study.
People who experience chronic marital stress are less able to savour positive experiences, a hallmark of depression. They are also more likely to report other depressive symptoms, researchers from University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison said.
"This is not an obvious consequence of marital stress but it is one I think is extraordinarily important because of the cascade of changes that may be associated," stressed Richard Davidson, founder of the centre for investigating healthy minds at UW's Waisman Center.
This is the signature of an emotional style that reveals vulnerability to depression, he added.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers recruited married adult participants to complete questionnaires rating their stress on a six-point scale.
They were asked questions like how often they felt let down by their partner or how frequently their spouse criticised them.
They were also evaluated for depression.
Roughly nine years later, the questionnaire and depression assessments were repeated.
In year 11, the participants were invited to the laboratory to undergo emotional response testing, a means of measuring their resilience.
The participants were shown 90 images, a mix of negative, neutral and positive photographs such as a smiling mother-daughter pair.
The participants 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.
The researchers thought chronic marital stress could provide a good model for how other common daily stressors may lead to depression and similar conditions.
"How is it that a stressor gets under your skin and how does that make some more vulnerable to maladaptive responses?" said lead author Regina Lapate, a graduate student at UW-Madison.
The study has been published in the Journal of Psychophysiology.
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