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Marriage Could Lift One Out of Depression, New Study

Depressed? Consider marriage as an option please, a pair of young US researchers say. The more depressed you are, the happier you could be after marriage . And never mind the quality of marital life itself, you would still stand to benefit, claim Adrianne Frech, a sociology graduate student at Ohio State University, and her colleague, Kristi Williams.

They looked at a sample of 3,066 men and women who had been interviewed and tested for depression once in either 1987 or 1988 and then again five years later. In the interviews, they were asked about the quality of their marriage (if they were married).

On average, controlling for differences in depression, subjects who had gotten married over the five-year span between the two interviews reported improved psychological well-being in the second interview scoring an average of 3.42 points lower on the 84-point depression scale than their counterparts who did not marry.

When they teased apart how marriage affected those who had been depressed at the start of the study to those who had been happy, however, they came across something unexpected. The depressed who married scored an average of 7.56 points lower on the depression scale than the depressed who did not marry, while those who were happy and got married scored only 1.87 points lower on the scale.

In other words, marriage provided a much bigger psychological boost to the depressed subjects than to the happy subjects. We were surprised, Frech told LiveScience. We expected the depressed to have worse marital quality and therefore benefit less from a transition into marriage.

The findings, to be published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, hold true even though depressed people do have unhappier marriages. The depressed benefit more from a transition into marriage despite their having, on average, worse marital quality, Frech noted. The big remaining question, she says, is why depresse
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