Mental illness and divorce rates

Scientific research has confirmed what many people already assumed: Individuals with depression, anxiety, and other affective disorders divorce at rates far above the national average.

This isn’t surprising. But it is affirming. Individuals struggling with mental disorders have long been known to face difficulties in maintaining relationships. The self-doubt and related symptoms imparted by such illnesses make it hard, in many cases, to provide or accept support from a partner. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the research demonstrates “the adverse effects of mental disorders on life…across a diverse range of socioeconomic and cultural settings [and]…should be included in considerations of public health investments in preventing and treating mental disorders.” 

“Divorce has negative effects on subsequent earnings”

Some mental health disorders are more predictive of divorce than others. Individuals with histrionic personality disorder, for example, were found to have the highest divorce rates. (Histrionic personality disorder typically involves a great deal of attention-seeking behavior, paired with rapidly changing emotions.) Individuals with paranoid personality disorder also figure near the top of the list.

Still, it may be most instructive to look at the trends in general, rather than the divorce rates of specific disorders. Understanding how depression and anxiety—the most common affective disorders—can strain a marriage is important for couples who are dealing with such exigencies.

After all, the end of a marriage can have wide-reaching consequences. As the NIH notes, while “entering a marriage improves earnings as well as physical and mental health…divorce has negative effects on subsequent earnings and on the economic and social wellbeing of children.”

Marriage isn’t easy for anyone

Marriages are rarely easy. The work involved in sharing a life with someone else is often arduous. This is why the divorce rate—in Texas, and in the U.S. as a whole—remains high for everyone.

But some individuals have a harder time than others—and through no fault of their own. A mixture of genetics and experience make it tough to live and develop routines with a partner. Still, if this can be discussed and addressed in an open manner, then a couple can better its chances of success.  



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