Besides being more likely to suffer from depression, women in “strained” marriages are at higher risk for metabolic syndrome as well. This in turn makes these women more at risk for future incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome accounts for a series of medical conditions, including insulin resistance, decreased HDL cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated triglyceride levels, that are all closely linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Alternate names for metabolic syndrome include insulin resistance syndrome and syndrome X.
The study was conducted on 276 married couples, who filled out extensive questionnaires about their married lives (frequency of arguments, communication and trust, intimacy, depression, stress, etc…), and both the men and women were tested for metabolic syndrome. Both men and women, not surprisingly, reported being depressed more often while in what were determined to be strained marriages, but women in strained marriages, and not men, were also seen to suffer from metabolic syndrome.
It’s believed by the researchers that the increased incidence of both depression and metabolic syndrome in wives is linked, and expected. Women are naturally more emotional and susceptible to stresses caused by relationships, but the real issue is that this susceptibility can lead to long-term health problems, well beyond either the resolution or termination of the troubled relationship. Dr. Nancy Henry explains her teams results, encouraging more awareness about this potential problem: “We know from previous research that women are more sensitive and responsive to relationship problems than men. The results of this study suggest those problems could harm their health. Understanding the emotional and relationship health of couples can be an important overall factor in understanding physical health. Improving aspects of intimate relationships might help your emotional and physical well-being.”
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Henry, Nancy. Siegel, Lee. Universty of Utah news release. March 2009.