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APS: Troubled Marriages Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

Relationship seen between marital strife, depression, metabolic syndrome in wives, but not husbands

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Marital difficulties may raise women's risk of developing metabolic syndrome, possibly through an association with depressive symptoms, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, held Mar. 4 to 7 in Chicago.

Nancy Henry, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues analyzed data from 276 couples who had been married an average of 20 years. Using a variety of scales, participants reported on the positive and negative aspects of their marriages, and symptoms of depression. They also underwent testing of their high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting glucose and triglycerides.

Women who reported marital strain were more likely to have depressive symptoms, the investigators found. Women with higher levels of marital strain had more symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which were explainable by the symptoms of depression, according to the authors. Although men in strained marriages also reported more depression, neither factor was associated with metabolic syndrome, they note.

"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," Henry said in a prepared statement.

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