Bad Marriages Tied to Metabolic Syndrome, or Depression?

You may have seen this article about depression and “metabolic syndrome” being tied to unhappy marriages.  Or to be more precise: 

While both men and women in “strained” unions, those marked by arguing and being angry, were more likely to feel depressed than happier partners, the women in the contentious relationships were more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and other markers of what’s known as “metabolic syndrome,” aid study author Nancy Henry, a doctoral candidate in clinical healthy psychology at the University of Utah.

Part of me wonders if this means that governments are going to push marriage counseling at the same rates that they push diets.  (boom-tish!)  

Part of me wonders if this might actually say something about how women and men respond differently to stress.  The press release states that according to co-author Tim Smith,

[T]he endocrinology of depression’s psychological stress may explain why the five risk factors that comprise metabolic syndrome fit together. 

He hypothesizes that perhaps “the hormonal effects of stress are why you are depositing fat [around the waist], why your insulin resistance goes up, why your lipids and blood pressure get out of whack. Part of the reason these things may be clumping together is because they are part of an unhealthy body response to stress.”

Considering I averaged a ~30lb weight gain with each major depressive episode (without antidepressants) I kinda wonder if there may be something worth further research here.

10 thoughts on “Bad Marriages Tied to Metabolic Syndrome, or Depression?

  1. Part of the reason these things may be clumping together is because they are part of an unhealthy body response to stress.

    I have a problem with his phrasing here… he makes it sound like if your body is unhealthy, this is how you’ll respond to stress. Sounds to me more like stress is unhealthy for the body. It’s not like you have to be fat or have existing health issues to respond to an excess of cortisone with weight gain, fatigue, etc.

    • Ah. I knew something was missing there, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

      That aside, am I the only one whose first thought was “WTF this is supposed to be news??” I did a quick online search on the bad side effects of stress about a year and a half ago and found out that among other things, it can cause high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and either weight gain or loss. That’s why I always thought maybe the reason why fat people are more likely to get those things is that they’re more likely to experience stress. Which would make sense, what with all the negative messages about their body and the weight loss attempts etc.

      So, uhm … other people don’t know this? I should have made a post about that.

      • That aside, am I the only one whose first thought was “WTF this is supposed to be news??”

        Nope. I first saw the headline, “Bad Marriages Harder on Women’s Health”, and thought, huh, is it about stress and/or depression?

        I think it’s the marriage hook that is getting it wider play. I don’t consider that a BAD thing, either … so much of fat hate is built around “calories in / calories out”, getting the word out that things like stress can cause weight gain regardless of calories in or out is a good thing.

  2. I’m glad but kind of surprised that that they didn’t try to make the causation go the other way (“metabolic syndrome causes bad marriages”).

    But it reminds me a bit of “All fat people were abused as children.”

    • I’m glad but kind of surprised that that they didn’t try to make the causation go the other way (”metabolic syndrome causes bad marriages”).

      Yeah. I think the depression piece may have had something to do with that – negative stress IS known to cause depression, and one of the symptoms of depression is unexplained weight ups and downs.

      But it reminds me a bit of “All fat people were abused as children.”

      I fully expect stand-up comedians to turn this into, “If your wife gains weight after you get married, it’s because you’re treating her badly.” Because of course it’s all about the guy.

  3. Yeah, the headline sounded like it was going to be about how I will never have a good marriage because I am depressed and fat. But then it wasn’t! So aside from what fillyjonk said above, yay!

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