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After Divorce, Men Twice as Likely to Experience Depression

Depressed man

Men are nearly twice as more likely to suffer from depression after they break up with their spouse, according to a Canadian study released Tuesday.

While both men and women whose marriages have dissolved have a higher risk of being depressed than people who remained with their spouses, the Statistics Canada study found that men who had divorced or separated were six times more likely to report an episode of depression compared with men who remained married.

By contrast, divorced or separated women were only 3.5 times more likely to experience depression than those still in a relationship, the study found. Men are therefore nearly twice as likely to experience depression after a divorce or breakup than women.

The study said while both women and men have a higher risk of depression two years after the end of a marriage or common-law relationship, most people said their depression ended within four years of breaking up with their partner.

“On the one hand we know depression in general tends to be more common among women, but there is also a lot of evidence that shows that men have fewer social supports and social support does seem to play a role,” Michelle Rotermann, the study’s author, noted.

“Perhaps one of the reasons why men are more at risk of experiencing subsequent depression is because one of their main sources of social support is their partner, their spouse, and now she is no longer there,” said Rotermann, who is also an analyst at Statistics Canada.

The study was based on longitudinal data from the National Population Health Survey, which was taken at two-year intervals between 1994 and 2005. The 7,614 respondents were between the ages of 20 and 64, and free of depression and in a relationship the first time they were interviewed.

On average, slightly more than four percent of people aged 20 to 64 who were married or living with a common-law partner had separated two years later, when NPHS interviewed them again.

The survey found that 12 per cent of people who were no longer in a relationship reported a new episode of depression, while just three per cent of those who remained in a relationship had suffered new depression.

Nineteen per cent of men who were no longer with their spouse found a decline in social support, while only six per cent of men who remained in a relationship found a drop. Among women the proportions were 11 per cent for those no longer in a relationship and five for those who were.

Source: Statistics Canada

After Divorce, Men Twice as Likely to Experience Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). After Divorce, Men Twice as Likely to Experience Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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