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Does marriage lower depression risk?

'Married women are less likely to suffer depression than cohabiters or singletons,' according to the Daily Mail.

The claim is based on a large Canadian survey that assessed various factors in the lives of new mothers, including whether they had depressive symptoms that could indicate postnatal depression.

Researchers found that domestic violence and substance use were reported less by women who were married than unmarried cohabiting women, single and never married women, and separated or divorced women. However, the longer an unmarried woman had been living with her partner, the less difference there was when compared with a married woman.

The link with postnatal depression was less robust, as it was not statistically significant in the overall analysis. However, rates of postnatal depression were greater in mothers who had lived with their partners for up to two years – whether married or unmarried – compared with married women who had lived with their partners for more than five years.

The figures in this study only give us a snapshot of new mothers in Canada at one point in time, and the figures may not be representative of other countries at different times. Most importantly, the design of the study means that it is not possible to say that marriage is directly causing any of the differences seen between the groups.

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