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June 04, 2007
Depressed People Have More to Gain from Getting Married
Marriage provides greater psychological benefits to depressed people versus
people who were not depressed before they walked down the aisle, a new study
reveals. This remains true even though marriage quality is poorer for depressed
Sociologists Adrienne Frech and Kristi Williams, from Ohio
State University-Columbus, co-wrote the study. It appears in the June issue of
the American Sociological Association's Journal of Health and Social
“Based on previous research, we hypothesized that people
who are depressed would have worse marital quality and would therefore
experience fewer benefits from marriage,” Frech said. “But that is not what we
The researchers speculated that marriage may provide a level of
companionship that depressed singles typically lack.
Frech’s team used
data from the National Survey of Families and Households. The study included
3,066 never-married, divorced or widowed individuals under age 55. To identify
depressed individuals, researchers used a 12-item test for depression.
Respondents were considered depressed if they scored 23 or more points on the
After a follow-up period of five years, researchers identified
people who got married, the quality of their marriages and how their
psychological well-being changed. The study excluded participants who married
but ended up divorcing before the five-year follow-up.
that all participants who married within the five-year period scored an average
of about 3.5 points lower on the depression test than those who remained single.
Of all the depressed participants, those who got married scored an average 7.5
points lower on the mood scale than the people who remained single. The
nondepressed experienced a smaller change in their psychological well-being if
they got married.Results from the study confirmed that depressed people report
less marital happiness and more marital conflict. Nevertheless, being married
enhanced their mood. Previous studies suggest that depressed people benefit from
stable social support more than the nondepressed.
Robin Simon, an
associate professor of sociology from Florida State University in Tallahassee,
agrees that this is likely. “The study’s findings make perfect sense to me. One
symptom of depression is loneliness and lack of companionship. I am not
surprised that marriage would supply a psychological boost for the previously
depressed,” she said.
A copy of the study can be found here
For more information contact the American
Sociological Association. Contact Sujata Sinha, Media Relations Officer at (202)
247-9871or firstname.lastname@example.org or Health Behavior News Service: Lisa Esposito at
(202) 387-2829 or email@example.com
The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is the quarterly
the American Sociological Association.
About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org),
founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to
serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science
and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.