Depression divorce rate

'My Spouse Struggles With Mental Illness'

Marriage is pretty damn hard—even when both parties are healthy and happy. Throw a serious health issue—like mental illness—in the mix, and the struggle is all the more real.

Conditions like depression and anxiety—along with the medications used to treat them—can dampen libido. And sex isn't the only worry: Caring for a mentally distressed partner can spark mood problems in spouses.

In fact, one study found that caregiving mates can exhibit signs of burnout identical to those found in nursing staff at psychiatric hospitals.

The fallout is a high divorce rate, says Anita H. Clayton, M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Research suggests mental disorders are linked to an increase in divorce ranging from 20 percent (in the case of minor phobias) to 80 percent (when addiction or major depression are factors).

Clearly, having or dealing with a mental illness is stressful. But it's not all bad: These pairs show facing it can actually bring you closer together.


Courtesy Kirsten and Theron Schultz

When the Wisconsin couple met a decade ago, Theron was coming off one of the depressive episodes he'd struggled with since childhood. In the past, he had tended to disengage from those around him when his mood sank, but Kirsten's openness about her own health struggles (she has Still's disease, a chronic inflammatory condition) encouraged him to share his difficulties with her just a few weeks into the relationship.

Still, the new couple wrestled with their different approaches to handling stress and low moods. When Theron was down, "Kirsten would go into fix-it mode and pester me with constant questions, which felt smothering," says Theron, who needs time alone to regroup.

Related Story
  • Do You Have Anxiety Or Depression?

With the help of a therapist, they developed a code phrase ("bum day") to indicate when one of them needs extra support—in a way that feels right for them. When Theron uses it, Kirsten gives him space, knowing he'll talk to her when he's ready. If she's having a rough time with her own depression, saying the phrase signals her husband to offer a hug.


Courtesy Kimmie and Joe Fink

"Already as a first-grader, I was like, 'I have to get a full scholarship to go to college,'" says Kimmie, describing the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) she's lived with for most of her life.

When she met Joe at 31, she was up-front about her mental health from the get-go. She explained that she takes meds for her condition but still has symptoms (such as feeling a need to put things in alphabetical order). "I dumped my baggage on him because I thought, If you are going to bail, bail now." He didn't.

Related Story
  • 7 Xanax Side Effects You Should Know About

They were engaged within a year; the following year they had a daughter. Despite her taking her medication religiously, Kimmie's anxiety and OCD flared up after the birth. She would ruminate on ways the baby could be harmed.

Kimmie drew on tools she learned in therapy—like mindfulness techniques—to reduce her symptoms. Joe supported her in practical ways other couples might take for granted—something he still does. "If I can't deal with stuff, he'll go to the grocery store or run errands," says Kimmie.


If you or a loved one has a mental health condition, simple vocab swaps can help you have more productive conversations.

INSTEAD OF: "You always bail when we make plans!"

TRY: "When you cancel at the last minute, I feel disappointed."

WHY IT'S BETTER: It focuses on your feelings, rather than placing blame, which can spark defensiveness.

INSTEAD OF: "I know I said I would go to therapy, but I'm not ready. "

TRY: "I'm not ready for therapy yet, and I'm working on it."

WHY IT'S BETTER: The word but negates everything in the first part of the sentence. The word and doesn't.

INSTEAD OF: "You should take your meds."

TRY: "How would you feel about my helping you to remember to take your medication?"

WHY IT'S BETTER: Accusations put people on the defensive; this suggestion works toward a solution.

Source: Susan Heitler, Ph.D., Denver psychologist and author of Prescriptions Without Pills.

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Women's Health Magazine. For more great advice, pick up a copy on newsstands now!

How Depression Affects Marriage and Relationships

The 20-something couple, married just a few years, was eagerly looking forward to the birth of their first baby.

Labor and delivery went fine, and the baby was born healthy. But problems began when the new mom, overwhelmed by motherhood, suffered depression.

"The husband had to take care of everything," recalls Joan R. Sherman, MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Lancaster, Pa., who saw the couple in counseling. When he was at work, he worried that his wife was so depressed she wasn't paying needed attention to the baby. He became so worried he secretly set up a "nanny cam."

She got more and more depressed; he got more anxious, angry, and resentful.

As this case history suggests, depression that affects one partner has an effect on the other partner, the relationship and ultimately the entire family. Nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older, is affected with a major depression in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Statistics about how frequently depression affects one partner in a relationship are elusive, say Sherman and other experts. But mental health counselors like Sherman say depression often leads couples to seek counseling, fearful the depression will lead to divorce.

Depression and Divorce: Inevitable?

The depression itself doesn't lead directly to divorce, experts say. Rather, it is the consequences of not addressing the depression.

"I don't usually hear, 'I got a divorce because my wife was depressed,'" Sherman tells WebMD. Much more typical: "My spouse became distant and had an affair."

"Depression can lead to other problems," agrees Constance Ahrons, PhD, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and an author and speaker based in San Diego who has researched and written about divorce. Affairs aren't the only problems, she says. Often, one partner may get so depressed he stops working, and that can lead to a cascade of other problems.

But there's hope, mental health experts say, if couples address the depression. Try to understand how it affects each partner, determine its roots, keep communication open, and get professional help if needed.

Depression: Partners in Agony

Depending on the extent of the depression, the depressed spouse often tunes out and gives up on life. A depressed person may sleep too much, or too little. Depressed people often stop eating much, or overeat, and may have difficulty concentrating and conversing.

"The depressed person often feels responsible, but they feel like they can't do anything about [their inertia]," says Ahrons. "Many of them don't even know why they are depressed."

Meanwhile, the other partner feels compelled to pick up the slack, especially if there are children. They may be very understanding and sympathetic at first, say Ahrons and Sherman.

How Depression Can Lead to an Angry Marriage

But as exhaustion and frustration increase, the feelings of the unaffected partner may turn to anger or resentment. If the depressed partner doesn't enjoy engaging in activities the couple used to do together, that's another source of irritation, Ahrons says. "The other partner either has to do things on their own or stay home, too," she says.

If a partner has never been depressed, they may have a hard time understanding the mood disorder. That can be difficult if you're a very upbeat type, Ahrons says. She says she often hears an upbeat partner say of a depressed spouse: "Why can't he just pull himself up?"

The partner who isn't depressed may also feel cheated, says Dan Jones, PhD, director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. That's understandable, he says, because the depressed partner is typically not much fun.

"Most people fall in love because they are enjoying each other's company and having fun together," he says.

"The depressed person will [often] give the impression he doesn't care," he says. "It's hard to feel intimate with someone [who looks like he does not care]," he says. There is often a loss of interest in sex by the depressed person, which further strains the relationship.

If the depression persists for months, or years, both partners can feel the distance between them widening. The non-depressed spouse will often think: "How can he be depressed? "We have a happy marriage," says Anita H. Clayton, MD, professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. But sometimes, one has nothing to do with the other. Other times, the depression is due to marital dissatisfaction.

Unraveling the Roots of Depression

Some depression is transient, such as when a partner loses a parent or other family member. Within a few weeks, typically, the person feels a bit better.

Other times, the depression might continue or reoccur several times. Having a history of depression makes it more likely to have another episode, says Clayton. "With the first depression, we can usually link it to some event," she says, such as job loss, or a serious medical problem. "We can identify a trigger."

"The more episodes you have, the less likely it is linked to an event," she says, perhaps because of underlying brain changes.

Getting Help for Depression in Marriage: What Works?

If a couple decides that professional counseling is needed, the depressed partner may want to go alone first, Jones says. Or, he has found that some nondepressed partners try to persuade the depressed person to get help and the partner won't go.

Seeing a therapist together can give a couple valuable perspective, he says. "The therapist mediates," he says. "It's not a blaming session, but rather the therapist helps the depressed person recognize they are contributing to [the problem]. If they improve the depression, they could improve the marriage."

In a study, Italian researchers reviewed the data on whether couple therapy was a better way to treat depression in one partner and found no difference between couple therapy and individual therapy on the symptoms of depression. But couple therapy better reduced "relationship distress," they report in the journal Psychiatric Quarterly.

Often, talking about the depression -- whether alone or with a partner in therapy -- brings up other issues in a marriage that, when addressed, help ease the depression, Sherman says.

Combining Talk Therapy With Antidepressants for Depression

If depression doesn't improve with behavior or talk therapy, a physician may decide to prescribe an antidepressant, or may prescribe it along with the therapy.

Antidepressant medications can help, Clayton says. "Medications and therapy are often very useful." If the depression is milder, one or the other may be enough, she says; if it is more severe a combination treatment may be better.

In a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Stanford University researchers compared medication alone, talk therapy alone, or a combination in 656 patients with chronic depression. They concluded that the combination produces a faster, fuller remission of chronic depression.

Like many medications, antidepressants can interact with other medicine, and cause side effects. Patients should always tell their doctors about the medicines they take, and call the doctor if they notice side effects. Another class of antidepressant may be prescribed.

Depression and Relationships: Prognosis?

Sometimes, the partner of a person with depression will feel responsible, and stick with the marriage even if they’ve become more of a caretaker than a spouse.

But more often, if the depression continues for years, the partner does get tired of it and seeks divorce, Ahrons says.

Which couples are most likely to stay together? Those who acknowledge depression as a problem, try to relieve it, and keep talking with each other.

Remember the young couple at the beginning of this story? The new mother and her husband actually strengthened their marriage once they acknowledged the depression and sought treatment, Sherman says.

When she counseled the couple, the wife acknowledged she had ambivalence about becoming a mother. Her husband took issue with her housekeeping and his displeasure only grew worse when motherhood reduced available time to clean. The marital dissatisfaction may have contributed to her depression.

So they worked on those issues. He eased up on housekeeping standards. She talked through her ambivalence about motherhood. It was mainly rooted, Sherman found, in her lack of confidence.

"Her depression lifted once they started talking," Sherman says. Their relationship improved.

"The last time I talked to them," she reports, "they were doing well."

Russians began to divorce more often. Psychologists explained this by remote work and politics - Secret of the Firm

Then the number of divorced marriages was called the largest in all the previous seven years. In 2022, the trend continued: 90,003 in the first half of the year, Russian registry offices registered 317,830 divorces.

In January 2022, Russians divorced 6.4% more often than in the same month last year. The strongest growth occurred on in May when 58 772 divorces (+20%) were registered in the country . In June, the indicator increased by 5. 4% yoy.

The leader in the growth in the number of divorces was the North Caucasus - plus 61%. In Dagestan and Ingushetia, the number of divorced marriages doubled to 6,664 and 1,297, respectively. There are three and a half times more divorces in Chechnya - 4221 .

Nevertheless, in the regions of the North Caucasus, the statistics of divorce remains one of the lowest in the country. In January-June 2022, only 22,378 divorces were registered there. This is slightly less than in Moscow alone (23,203). nine0005

Relations within families continue to be affected by one of the consequences of the pandemic — remote work, noted social psychologist Alexei Roshchin.

“Even at the stage of the pandemic, many marriages broke down. People spent too much time together and can't stand it anymore . Spouses often experience satiety, fatigue from each other. Many features that seemed to them quite tolerable in the old way of life, with constant communication, became unbearable, ”the specialist explained. nine0005

Rozhin suggested that marriages were also influenced by panic and fear, including in the information space. Married women want to feel with their spouses, “like behind a stone wall,” the psychologist emphasized. According to him, they are used to seeing their husbands as reliable partners who are able to support and protect them, but the crisis conditions make women look at their men differently.

“Political and media turbulence did not unite the spouses, but, on the contrary, undermined the metaphysical basis of marriage. nine0021 Women began to see in their spouses not defenders, but the same weak people who can be unsettled . As a result, disappointment and understanding came that the marriage was not justified. And this trend, apparently, will continue for a long time, being reflected in the divorce statistics, ”the psychologist believes.

Sociologist, Associate Professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics Olga Savinskaya noted that the recent events in Russia and in the world have become a shock for many people. Differences in political views for some could serve as an impetus for divorce. However, the expert urged to take into account that often people go to parting for a long time. nine0005

“Perhaps the political situation and the disagreements that arose on its basis were just a trigger, a reason for parting. But the very reasons for divorce are often laid down for years, ”said Savinskaya.

In turn, demographer Alexei Raksha believes that the current increase in the number of divorces is within the margin of error. He recalled that in Russia (formerly the RSFSR), high divorce rates have been observed since the 1970s, and in the 1990s it grew even more.

“At the same time, the following trend is observed in developed countries: the higher the number of marriages, the higher the "divorce rate". nine0021 In this regard, we are similar to the United States, where many marriages are also registered ,” the expert explained.

He associated the increase in the number of divorces in the North Caucasus with the attempts of families to obtain payments due to "single" mothers through divorce. “After all, the main marriages in the Muslim republics are religious, not civil,” Raksha added.

Photo: Unsplash, Unsplash License

Reasons for divorce in Russia: statistics for 2020

Sergey Antonov

everyone is happy in marriage

Author profile

Alexey Smagin

never tried marriage

According to statistics, there are 7 divorces for every 10 marriages in Russia.

In 2020, 770.8 thousand marriages and 564 thousand divorces were registered in Russia. If you look at opinion polls, then often, when talking about the reasons for the breakup, the ex-husband and wife use the vague wording "didn't get along." We studied official divorce statistics and research by scientists and tried to find out why marriages in Russia actually break up. nine0005

How often people get divorced

Over the past ten years, Russians have become less likely to get married, while the number of divorces has remained approximately the same. So, in 2006 in Russia there were more marriages than divorces, about 1.5 times, in 2011 - 2 times, and in 2020 - 1.4 times. Even the pandemic had almost no effect on the number of couples who decided to formalize the breakup: in a covid year, there were 7 divorces for 10 weddings.

For convenience, statistics consider the relative number of marriages (and divorces) in the same way as other indicators: divide the number of marriages in the region by the number of its inhabitants. If you see that in Russia there are 75 marriages per 10,000 people, you should know that there are 150 newlyweds for every 10,000 inhabitants. nine0005 Source: Rosstat Source: Rosstat

The number of marriages is affected by the birth rate in previous years. For example, in the eighties it was high, so the number of marriages grew until the end of the 2010s: a lot of people entered the so-called marriageable age - Russians most often get married at the age of 20-30. And in the nineties, the birth rate in the country fell by about one and a half times compared to the eighties. As a result, by 2020, the number of people at the age when Russians actively marry has also decreased. nine0005

Fragment of the HSE Annual Demographic Report for 2006PDF, 521 KB

In parallel, another factor played a role. In Russia, as in many Western countries, the typical bride and groom are gradually "aging": the average age of marriage is growing. In 1993, the typical groom was 26.1, the bride 24.1. In 2016 - 30.1 and 27.7, respectively.

Fragment of the HSE Annual Demographic Report for 2017PDF, 668 KB

As a result, since 2012, the number of marriages has decreased by 1.8 times, and divorces by only 1.2 times. nine0005

The leaders in the number of divorces in 2020 are Sakhalin and the Magadan region: 51 divorces per 10,000 inhabitants. In third place is the Kaliningrad region: 50 per 10,000. Families break up least often in the national republics: for example, in Chechnya and Ingushetia, only 10 divorces per 10,000 inhabitants were registered.

What do Russians consider as a good reason for divorce

In 2019, VCIOM asked Russians what, in their opinion, is the most common reason for divorce in Russia. Respondents could select multiple answers. In the first place were financial factors — poverty and the inability to feed a family: 46% of respondents answered this way. In second place is the betrayal or jealousy of one of the spouses: 22%. On the third - lack of mutual understanding: 21%. nine0005

Interestingly, for several years in a row, those who considered a difficult financial situation as a reason for divorce were two times less.

Source: VTsIOM Source: VTsIOM

As for adultery in marriage, according to another study, more than half of Russians consider it worthy of condemnation. And only 12% of the respondents said that there is nothing reprehensible in this. Moreover, according to opinion polls, the proportion of those who categorically condemn sex on the side has grown almost one and a half times over 30 years - from 35 to 52%. nine0005

Infidelity, same-sex relationships, abortion: taboo or norm? — VTsIOM study

The number of people who say that there is nothing wrong with cheating also increased, but not significantly: from 9% in 1991 to 12% in 2018.

What else affects the strength of marriage

According to sociologists, there are and other factors that increase the likelihood of divorce. They are not as obvious as cheating or the unwillingness of one of the spouses to find a job. Sociologists analyze the divorce statistics of hundreds and even thousands of couples and come to the conclusion that there are hidden factors that increase the chance of a family breakup. nine0005

No children. According to the Institute of Demography of the Higher School of Economics, in the eighties and nineties, families with children accounted for more than 60% of the total number of divorces. By 2015, this figure fell one and a half times - to 41%.

Childless couples divorce more often — HSE study

Marriage age. With each year of marriage, the chance of divorce decreases. So, in couples who got married in 1980-1989, they thought about divorce 9.3% of men and 22.4% of women, and among those who registered relationships in 2000-2004 - 14. 3 and 27.1%, respectively.

Who breaks up relationships more often and why — a study by the Higher School of Economics

Scientists explain this situation with purely psychological reasons: couples who started a family in the 2000s were at the beginning of a joint journey at the time of the study. They are just beginning to organize a joint life, distribute responsibilities, rub each other in. The likelihood of disagreement is much higher. nine0005

The high position of a wife. Swedish scientists came to the conclusion that couples divorce more often, where a woman was promoted in the service. Families in which the wife gets the post of CEO, mayor or parliamentarian are twice as likely to break up than those where the same position goes to the husband.

Single women: career advancement and marital longevity - American Economic Journal article, in English

According to the authors of the study, couples in such cases have increased conflicts that are associated with the changed social and economic position of the wife. And women also have less time for family leisure and housework, which also often affects the strength of relationships. nine0005

Views on marriage. But there are also studies, the authors of which claim that the reasons for divorce lie only in the life attitudes of the spouses themselves. Scientists from Volgograd State University, who have been studying marriages and divorces in Russia for several years, say that neither the well-being, nor the duration of the relationship, nor the difference in the age of the husband and wife affect the strength of the family. People of different ages, with different levels of education, rich and poor, married for one year and many years, with children and without children - the probability of divorce is about the same for everyone. nine0005

Causes of divorce in modern Russia — an article by scientists Elena Laktyukhina and Georgy Antonov in the journal Demoscope

According to researchers, subjective ideas about marriage and a partner are important, as well as respect, fidelity, tolerance, and the presence of common interests.

Learn more