Marriage as a risk factor for internalizing disorders: Clarifying scope and specificity

Rebecca L. Brock, Erika Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Marital discord has been linked to both depression and anxiety; however, our understanding of how marriage contributes to the development of internalizing symptoms is limited in scope and lacking specificity. First, it is unclear whether the marital relationship contributes to the broad dimension of internalizing symptoms as opposed to specific diagnoses. Second, it is unclear how the marital relationship contributes to internalizing symptoms: through global marital dissatisfaction or through specific relationship processes (and which processes). The purpose of the present study was to address these 2 issues and, more generally, to develop a comprehensive and refined framework within which to understand the role of marriage in the developmental course of internalizing symptoms. Questionnaire and interview data were collected from 102 husbands and wives 5 times over the first 7 years of marriage. Results indicated that marital discord during the transition into marriage was associated with the broad dimension of internalizing symptoms for husbands but not for wives. Further, both global marital dissatisfaction and an imbalance of power and control put husbands at significant risk for symptoms over the first 7 years of marriage, whereas low levels of emotional intimacy put wives at significant risk. Results exemplify the need to routinely consider intimate relationship processes in etiological models of depression and anxiety and to identify specific clinical targets that can be prioritized in interventions aimed at preventing internalizing disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-589
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Volume79
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • couples
  • depression
  • internalizing symptoms
  • relationship processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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