Deal with Depression and Divorce


Does divorce – or the factors that lead to divorce – increase the risk for depression?

That is a question that scientific researchers recently evaluated in a study published in Clinical Psychological Science. According to this study, divorce is associated with an increased risk of future depressive episodes but only for those who already have a history of depression.

Study Design

To study this question, researchers examined data from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) Study, which is a longitudinal, nationally representative study. In this study, researchers matched participants who had separated or divorced to a continuously married person who had the same propensity to divorce, based on previously identified factors.

Study Results

While the results showed that divorce had a significant effect on subsequent depression, it only increased the likelihood of a later depressive episode for those study participants who reported having a history of depression. For example, almost 60 percent of adults with a history of depression who divorced during the study experienced a depressive episode.

The study also found that there was no elevated risk for a future depressive episode in study participants who had a history of depression but hadn’t divorced, and those who divorced but had no history of depression. Only 10 percent of people in these two groups experienced an episode of depression.

Key Takeaway

According to researchers involved in the study, it is very important for a clinician to know whether a person’s history of depression is directly related to whether or not they will experience a depressive episode following a divorce as these people may need special attention for support or counseling services.

Source: Association for Psychological Science


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