A new study by Ohio University researchers says that getting married may benefit depressed people more than it helps normal people. Earlier studies have documented marriage as being beneficial to the general well being of a person, but this is the first study to look at the mental health aspect of tying the knot.
"Our findings question the common assumption that marriage is always a good choice for all individuals," observed co-author Adrianne Frech, a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University. Researchers used the data of 3,066 people involved in the National Survey of Families and Households. The survey had interviewed the subjects in 1987-88 and then again in 1992-94. At the time of the first interview all participants were unmarried.
The researchers gauged the mental health of the people for signs of depression by asking 12 questions, which included queries on whether they "felt like they could not shake off the blues," "slept restlessly," or "felt lonely." They Researchers found that depressed people benefited most from marriage.
"We actually found the opposite of what we expected," Frech said. "We thought depressed people would be less likely to benefit from marriage because the depression of one spouse can put a strain on the marriage and undermine marital quality." The details of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association on August 13.
Study co-author Kristi Williams, assistant professor of sociology at Ohio University, said that they did not find any difference in gender as far as depression was concerned, "Marriage may give depressed people a greater sense that they matter to someone, while people who weren't depressed prior to marriage may have always thought that way," she said.