Research finds being married improves mental health

BEING married is better for your mental health than any other marital status, according to new findings from Roy Morgan Research.

Australia's married people are much less likely to experience anxiety, depression and panic attacks than those who are single, separated, divorced, widowed, engaged or de facto.

Their stress levels are also dramatically lower, second only to widowed people.

Roy Morgan Research group account director Angela Smith said the comparatively high rate of stress, depression and other mental health conditions among engaged couples and people in de facto relationships has puzzled researchers.

"The reason for the increased likelihood of mental health problems among de factos is less obvious," Ms Smith said.

"But one thing is for sure: suddenly that old chestnut about marriage being 'just a piece of paper' no longer sounds quite as convincing."

Just like their married peers, de facto couples live together, may own property together, may have children together, may share finances, and have much the same legal rights as married couples. 

Yet people in de facto relationships are much more likely than married couples to experience anxiety (21% vs 12%), depression (18% vs 10%), panic attacks (7% vs 3%) and stress (32% vs 21%).

People who are engaged to be married have a similarly high incidence of mental health issues. Last year, 21% reported experiencing anxiety, 20% were affected by depression, and a hefty 44% suffered from stress.

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