Marital breakdown and subsequent depression

Health Rep. 2007 May;18(2):33-44.


Objectives: This study examines the relationship between the dissolution of a marital or cohabitating relationship and subsequent depression among Canadians aged 20 to 64.

Data sources: Data are from the longitudinal component of the National Population Health Survey (1994/1995 through 2004/2005) and include the household population only.

Analytical techniques: Cross-tabulations were used to examine the association of marital dissolution with change in household income, social support, presence and number of children in the household and employment status over a two-year period. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between marital dissolution and depression over a two-year period among those who had not been depressed two years earlier, while controlling for these changes. To maximize sample size, pooling of repeated observations was used.

Main results: For both sexes, dissolution of a marriage or co-habiting relationship was associated with higher odds of a new episode of depression, compared with those who remained with a spouse over the two-year period. When the influences of possible confounders were considered, the association between a break-up and depression was weakened, but persisted. Marital dissolution was more strongly associated with depression among men than among women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Divorce / trends*
  • Employment
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support