Over the weekend there were a number of media outlets that reported on a new study linking marriage and depression. Unfortunately, many of these so called reputable outlets, went with a sensationalist headline, that did not actually match up the results of the study in question.
Case in point, The UK’s Daily Mail went with this headline:
Being married makes you MORE depressed: Constant nagging triggers deep-rooted stress, study reveals
Except, if you read deeper into the story, that’s not really what the study says at all. What it really says is that people in bad marriages, ones that are a constant source of stress in their lives, are more likely to show symptoms of depression.
Frankly, that’s not exactly earth-shattering news. Of course, you are going to show more signs of stress and depression if your marriage is a source of stress and depression as opposed to a marriage that isn’t. But that wouldn’t make for a very interesting story, so they spiced it up a bit to make it seem like all those studies that talk about how married people are generally healthier and happier, must be wrong. Except they aren’t. Those studies also give us the not exactly surprising result that people in a happy marriage, tend to be happier and happier people are generally healthier.
This isn’t exactly rocket science here.
The Daily Mail wasn’t alone either. I saw a number of articles and blog posts with similar headlines, indicating that marriage causes depression. Most of them went on to the details of the study, contradicting their own headline, but in this day and age, how many people read the headline and will take away the “knowledge” that marriage causes depression. This is why we cannot trust the media when it comes to mental health. They have a vested interest in sensationalizing the story, to grab readers attention, not in presenting a fair, balanced view of the matter. This is why we have stigma.
For a more balanced view, check out the Psych Central article, Forget Wedded Bliss: Marital Stress Linked to Depression
See how that slight change in focus changes the entire assumption of the headline?