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Depression after divorce: male call.

In the aftermath of divorce or separation from a spouse, men --but not women -- face a heightened risk of developing severe depression for the first time, conclude epidemiologist Martha L. Bruce and psychiatrist Kathleen M. Kim, both of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. Overall, however, the breakup of a marriage leads to comparable rates of severe depression among men and women, the researchers report in the July AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY.

Bruce and Kim obtained data on 695 women and 530 men interviewed during the early 1980s and then reinterviewed six months and one year later. Interviews took place in the New Haven area as part of a national investigation of psychiatric disorders. Over the study period, 53 participants separated from or divorced their spouse; 708 reported happy marriages; 259 described unhappy marriages; and 205 had separated from or divorced their spouse before the study began.

Approximately 21 percent of the women who reported a marital split during the study experienced severe depression, a rate three times higher than that for happily married women and twice as high as that for unhappily married and previously divorced or separated women. Nearly 17 percent of the men who reported a marital split during the study developed severe depression, a rate nine times higher than that for happily married men and about twice as high as that for men in the other two groups.

When the researchers considered only those participants with no history of severe depression, 14 percent of men citing marital splits during the study experienced severe depression, far more than men in any of the other groups. In contrast, depression occurred at a rate of 3 percent to 5 percent in all four groups of women.

The greater risk of first-time depression for newly divorced or separated men supports prior studies suggesting that men derive more psychological benefits from marriage than women, the researchers assert. In a related finding among the New Haven participants, happily married women suffered nearly four times as much severe depression as happily married men.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 18, 1992
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