Marital distress and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders in a population-based national survey

J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Aug;116(3):638-43. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.116.3.638.


The associations between marital distress and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) Axis I psychiatric disorders were evaluated in a United States population-based survey of married individuals in which there was no upper age exclusionary criterion (N = 2,213). Marital distress was associated with (a) broad-band classifications of anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders and (b) all narrow-band classifications of specific disorders except for panic disorder, with the strongest associations obtained between marital distress and bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorders, and generalized anxiety disorder. The association between marital distress and major depressive disorder increased in magnitude with increasing age; there was no evidence that the association between marital distress and other psychiatric disorders was moderated by gender or age. Results support continued research on the association between couple functioning and mental health.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States / epidemiology