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26 September 2003

Breakup can trigger depression

A combination of serious loss and humiliation - especially involving marriage or romantic breakups - may increase a person's risk for major depression, says a Virginia Commonwealth University study.

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A combination of serious loss and humiliation - especially involving marriage or romantic breakups - may increase a person's risk for major depression, says a Virginia Commonwealth University study.

The research study
The study, which included more than 7 300 twins, is the largest ever to use a rating system to assess the role that highly specific groups of stressful life events play in causing depression, anxiety and a combination of both disorders.

Love can make our life wonderful, but it can also make us miserable, lead author Dr Kenneth Kendler, professor of psychiatry and director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, says in a news release.

Combination of loss and humiliation strongest
When we looked at stressful life events that predisposed men and women to the onset of episodes of depression, the most toxic combination was loss and humiliation that in some way directly devalued the individual in a core role, Kendler says.

For both men and women, that combination was twice as potent for predisposing to depression as pure loss alone, such as death of a loved one. Most cases of combined loss and humiliation involved romantic breakups, he says.

For example, if your marriage breaks up, there's a loss, and it's reasonable to expect that you will experience aspects of grief, including sadness and loss of appetite. If your marriage breaks up, and your husband moves into a house a few doors away with a woman half his age, and he shows off his new girlfriend to your friends and family - that's grief combined with humiliation. That combination is especially strongly linked to risk for a depressive episode, Kendler says.

The study appears in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. - (HealthDayNews)

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