A study from Wisconsin-Madison University brings good news for single people and bad news for those who are married: marriage makes people more prone to depression.
The study suggests alternative evidence to previous studies which have previously stated that single people are more likely to be stressed and suffer from depression in their lives.
Married people, who experience medium to high levels of marital stress, react less to positive experiences, a key sign of depression.
Participants were given a questionnaire that rated their stress on a six point scale and they were also tested for depression. The tests were repeated nine years later, and then on the 11th year of the study, a final emotional response test was carried out.
The emotional response test involved 90 pictures of positive, negative and neutral images, and the ‘frowning muscle’, the corrugator supercilii located just above the eye, was measured for electrical responses, a reliable measurement of stress levels.
The intensity of the electrical activity in the muscle was recorded, as well as the length of time it took to fall back to the level of activity prior to starting the test. The higher and the longer the activity, the more stressed the person was. This is seen by some as more reliable than asking “how do you feel” to the participants, and gives an empirical measure that is easily compared to other results.
It found that married people tended to have higher electrical activity in the frowning muscle, and it took longer for them to recover from the emotional stimuli. This indicates that marriage can cause high levels of stress in life.