Infidelity and separations precipitate major depressive episodes and symptoms of nonspecific depression and anxiety

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2000 Oct;68(5):774-81.


This study examined whether humiliating marital events (HMEs; husbands' infidelity, threats of marital dissolution) precipitated Major Depressive Episodes (MDEs) when controlling for marital discord. Participants were 25 women who recently experienced an HME and 25 control women who did not experience an HME. Both groups reported similar levels of marital discord. Results indicated that HME participants were 6 times more likely to be diagnosed with an MDE than control participants. These results remained even after controlling for family and lifetime histories of depression. HME participants also reported significantly more symptoms of nonspecific depression and anxiety than control participants. However, HME and control participants did not report significantly different numbers of anhedonic depression and anxious arousal symptoms. The research and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety* / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression* / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Shame*
  • United States