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Husbands’ Hostility Spawns Depression

Husbands Hostility Spawns Depression Experts believe between 5 to 10 percent of Americans are depressed. A new study discovers a not-so-obvious contributing source for the malady: Marital hostility is found to cause depression among women.

University of Missouri researcher Christine Proulx, found that husbands’ hostile and antisocial behaviors increased their wives’ symptoms of depression over time.

“In the study, husbands’ marital hostility was significantly related to increases in wives’ symptoms of depression,” said Proulx, assistant professor in the department of human development and family studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“The more hostile and anti-social behavior exhibited by husbands, the more depressed their wives were after three years.

“These findings suggest that husbands’ treatment of their wives significantly impacts their psychological well-being and that hostile behavior has a lasting effect on couples that continues throughout their marriages.”

The researchers found no significant relationship between wives’ hostile behavior and husbands’ depression, unless significant life events, such as a death in the family or a job loss, were present.

Additionally, warm, positive behavior from husbands lessened the negative impact of their hostile behavior.

Antisocial behaviors are those that are self-centered, defiant or show a lack of restraint; hostile behaviors are those that are angry, critical or rejecting.

To measure hostile and antisocial behaviors, the researchers watched and coded 20-minute videos of couples interacting in their homes. Symptoms of depression were self-reported by those in the study.

“It’s critical that professionals ask people experiencing depression about their close relationships and recognize that their spouse’s behavior influences how they feel about life and themselves, especially among women,” Proulx said.

“It is important to intervene at the couple level and make spouses aware that how they act toward each other has a long-term effect on their emotional and physical well-being.”

The study, “Moderators of the Link between Marital Hostility and Change in Spouses’ Depressive Symptoms,” was recently published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Husbands’ Hostility Spawns 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). Husbands’ Hostility Spawns Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 16, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.