A new report indicates marital stress damages women’s health more than men’s. The disparate impact on women consists of “higher risk of stroke and heart disease due to depression, high blood pressure, obesity and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome,” according to a survey by Nancy J. Henry, M.S., Timothy W. Smith, PhD, Jonathan Butner, PhD, Cynthia Berg, PhD, and Bert Uchino, PhD.

            “Metabolic syndrome comprises five symptoms: high blood pressure, obesity around the waist, high blood sugar, high blood fats and low levels of good cholesterol or HDL. A person with these symptoms is at much higher risk of becoming diabetic, developing heart disease or having a stroke than a person that does not have them.”

Medical News Today, 5 March 2009.

            Ms. Henry, a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Utah, presented the findings entitled “Marriage, Depressive Symptoms, and the Metabolic Syndrome: A Couples’ Structural Model” at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society on March 5, 2009.   

            The survey results are not surprising: Empirical evidence already establishes that women are more sensitive to — and more affected by — problems in a relationship than men; and are more prone to depression. This latest work is a reminder that failed marriages are more than just money and kids; they also impact health.