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Marital stress can lead to depression and loss of enjoyment

The term wedded bliss is often used to describe the idyllic notion of what marriage can or should be. In reality, marriage is challenging and it can be emotionally difficult to weather all of the ups and downs. In fact, new research indicates that individuals who experience adversity and stress within a marriage are often more prone to developing depression.

The study was conducted by university researchers over the time period of 11 years. Throughout the course of the study, researchers asked 58 married men and 58 married women questions about their marriages and spouses as a means to determine a baseline of each participant’s marital satisfaction and happiness. Nine years later, study participants were again asked the same types of questions and their answers were again recorded.

Two years after that, researchers attempted to measure participants' emotional responses to both positive and negative imagery. To accomplish this task, researchers measured the responses of the muscle that becomes engaged when an individual frowns. By recording the length of time and significance of an individual's response to positive and negative images, researchers determined those individuals who reported high levels of marital stress had a shorter response time to positive images. The results of the study are significant in proving that marital stress can result in an individual developing depression and an overall inability to enjoy life.

Marital stress can result from a variety of situations and issues. Financial problems or a spouse's infidelity are widely recognized as being major marital stressors. However, less notable stressors such as a spouse that is critical or unreliable can also take a toll on a marriage and an individual’s overall happiness.

In some cases, spouses are able to attend counseling or therapy and work to sort out and overcome these stress-producing issues. In other cases, problems within a marriage cannot be overcome and divorce is the best key to finding happiness.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Stressful Marriages Linked To Depression In New Study," Taryn Hillin, April 28, 2014University of Wisconsin-Madison, "It's not all wedded bliss: Marital stress linked to depression" April 25, 2014

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