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The Royal Wedding: Marriage could help boost the happy couple’s long-term physical and mental health

28 April 2011

As William and Catherine look forward to their big wedding day they could also be looking forward to a life of improved mental and physical health which will grow over time, according to a Cardiff University academic and student.

In a review of evidence examining the link between marriage and physical and mental health Dr John Gallacher from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, and third year specialist trainee in paediatrics David Gallacher found that, on average, married couples have better physical and mental health.

Writing in the Student BMJ, they found that the evidence points to the fact that women in committed relationships have better mental health, while men in committed relationships have better physical health and conclude that "on balance it probably is worth making the effort."

Men’s physical health probably improves because of their partner’s positive influence on their lifestyle and "the mental bonus for women may be due to a greater emphasis on the importance of the relationship".

However – it’s not all good news for the happy couple.

The journey of true love does not always run smoothly, maintain the authors, pointing to evidence that relationships in adolescence are associated with increased adolescent depressive symptoms.

Not all relationships are good for you, they found, referring to evidence that single people have better mental health than those in strained relationships.

They also confirm that breaking up is hard to do, saying "exiting a relationship is distressing" and divorce can have a devastating impact on individuals. They conclude that while relationship failures can harm health this is not a reason to avoid them.

Dr Gallacher from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: "A good relationship will improve both physical and mental health and perhaps the thing to do is to try to avoid a bad relationship rather than not getting into a relationship at all."

A copy of the Student BMJ article is available at: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/january/relationships.doc

-Ends-

Notes:

Further information is available by contacting:

Dr John Gallacher
Department of Primary Care and Public Health
School of Medicine
Cardiff University
Telephone: 029 2074 2311
Mobile: 07983 854297
Email: gallacher@cf.ac.uk

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.