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27 April 2011
As William and Catherine look forward to their big wedding day they could also be looking forward to a life of improved mental and physical health which will grow over time, according to a University academic and student.
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In a review of evidence examining the link between marriage and physical and mental health Dr John Gallacher, a reader in the School of Medicine’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health, and third year specialist trainee in paediatrics David Gallacher found that, on average, married couples have better physical and mental health.
Writing in the Student BMJ, they found that the evidence points to the fact that women in committed relationships have better mental health, while men in committed relationships have better physical health and conclude that "on balance it probably is worth making the effort."
Men’s physical health probably improves because of their partner’s positive influence on their lifestyle and "the mental bonus for women may be due to a greater emphasis on the importance of the relationship".
However – it’s not all good news for the happy couple.
The journey of true love does not always run smoothly, maintain the authors, pointing to evidence that relationships in adolescence are associated with increased adolescent depressive symptoms.
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Listen to Dr Gallacher talk about how he conducted the research
Not all relationships are good for you, they found, referring to evidence that single people have better mental health than those in strained relationships. They also confirm that breaking up is hard to do, saying "exiting a relationship is distressing" and divorce can have a devastating impact on individuals. They conclude that while relationship failures can harm health this is not a reason to avoid them.
Dr Gallacher, School of Medicine, said: "A good relationship will improve both physical and mental health and perhaps the thing to do is to try to avoid a bad relationship rather than not getting into a relationship at all."
A copy of the Student BMJ article is available at: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/january/relationships.doc
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