New research suggests that saying goodbye to a spouse is an especially stressful experience for women.
The study by researchers at the University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, and the University Health Network in Australia, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found that women who said goodbye to their partners in the past year had a 20 per cent greater risk of developing depression, a mental health condition that can be treated with medication.
The researchers said the results could help doctors determine if a new partner is suffering from the same psychological issues as a woman who has had a baby.
The new study is based on data from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council-funded Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey, which asked a representative sample of Australians whether they had had any relationship problems in the previous year, including:Being unhappy with a partnerBeing lonelyBeing stressedBeing unhappy about a relationshipBeing depressedBeing anxiousBeing tiredBeing stressedWhen asked whether their partner was a burden on them, women who had a new baby were more likely to say their partner left them feeling depressed, anxious or stressed than those who had never had a child.
However, the researchers said women who did have children had lower rates of depression than women who didn’t.
“Women who had children reported having fewer depressive symptoms than those with no children,” the researchers wrote.
“This was not related to their number of children or the length of their relationships.
Instead, women with children were more than three times as likely to report depressed symptoms than women without children.”
While the study is an observational study, the authors suggest that the link between new baby and depressive symptoms may be stronger in women with a history of depression.
“The findings highlight the importance of women’s mental health and wellbeing in shaping their own behaviour and support their partner,” the authors wrote.
“If you are worried about your partner’s mental wellbeing, talk to your doctor, family doctor, or other health professional about your concerns.
Drinking more alcohol and smoking are important ways to manage stress.”