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Experiencing the breakdown of a marriage leads to an increased risk of depression compared to staying with a spouse, a new study published by Statistics Canada has found.

Based on data from the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), the study examined the connection between ending a marriage and subsequently experiencing depression.

Men and women were both found to have a greater risk of developing depression during the two years following the end of a marriage or committed common-law relationship, compared with couples who remained together.

Twelve (12) percent of people whose marriage ended suffered from depression in the following two years, compared to just 3 percent who stayed in the relationship.

Men, however, were more at risk of experiencing depression following separation than were women.

Men aged 20 to 64 who experienced divorce or separation were six (6) times more likely to report experiencing depression than were men who remained married, while women who had gone through a divorce or separation were 3.5 times more likely to experience depression than those who stayed with their partners.

While other factors accompanying the end of a relationship may contribute to the experience of depression, such as economic difficulties or changes in the number of children living in the home, researchers found such changes were not enough to account for depression levels, which remained higher even after the other possible factors were taken into consideration.

While a majority of people recovered from depression four years after the break-up, the study showed a significant minority continued to experience depression.

Statcan study:

[24May07, Gudrun Schultz, Ottawa,]