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Husbands' hostile, anti-social behaviors increase wives' symptoms of depression, study shows

Date:
February 22, 2010
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
While the causes of depression vary, a new study reveals that marital hostility is a contributing factor. Researchers found that husbands' hostile and anti-social behaviors increased their wives' symptoms of depression over time.

In the United States, nearly 10 percent of the population suffers from a depressive disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While the causes of depression vary, a new study at the University of Missouri reveals that marital hostility is a contributing factor. MU researcher, Christine Proulx, found that husbands' hostile and anti-social behaviors increased their wives' symptoms of depression over time.

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"In the study, husbands' marital hostility was significantly related to increases in wives' symptoms of depression," said Proulx, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. "The more hostile and anti-social behavior exhibited by husbands, the more depressed their wives were after three years. These findings suggest that husbands' treatment of their wives significantly impacts their psychological well-being and that hostile behavior has a lasting effect on couples that continues throughout their marriages."

The researchers found no significant relationship between wives' hostile behavior and husbands' depression, unless significant life events, such as a death in the family or a job loss, were present. Additionally, warm, positive behavior from husbands lessened the negative impact of their hostile behavior.

Anti-social behaviors are those that are self-centered, defiant or show a lack of constraint; hostile behaviors are those that are angry, critical or rejecting. To measure hostile and anti-social behaviors, the researchers watched and coded twenty-minute videos of couples interacting in their homes. Symptoms of depression were self-reported by those in the study.

"It's critical that professionals ask people experiencing depression about their close relationships and recognize that their spouse's behavior influences how they feel about life and themselves, especially among women," Proulx said. "It is important to intervene at the couple level and make spouses aware that how they act toward each other has a long-term effect on their emotional and physical well-being."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Proulx et al. Moderators of the Link between Marital Hostility and Change in Spouses%u2019 Depressive Symptoms. Journal of Family Psychology, 2009; 23 (4): 540 DOI: 10.1037/a0015448

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Husbands' hostile, anti-social behaviors increase wives' symptoms of depression, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222140621.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2010, February 22). Husbands' hostile, anti-social behaviors increase wives' symptoms of depression, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222140621.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Husbands' hostile, anti-social behaviors increase wives' symptoms of depression, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222140621.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

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