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Home > News > PTI

'Spouse's personality may be hazardous to your health'

December 02, 2007 16:19 IST

To the long list of parameters you need to consider when choosing a mate, there is now evidence that your spouse's personality may become hazardous to your health� seriously!

Researchers in the United States have carried out a study and found that the spouse's personality can have a major influence on one's ability to recover from -- and even survive -- a major challenge to health, the Science Daily reported.

"We've known for some time that a patient's personality and mood before surgery influence their own mental and physical recovery following surgery. We also know that a partner's personality and mood can affect us in short term. What this work shows is that a partner's personality traits are also important determinants of our own long-term emotional and physical recovery from a major health challenge," according to Prof John M. Ruiz of the Washington State University.

In fact, the researchers came to the conclusion after analysing a study involving over 100 coronary artery bypass patients and their spouses -- their aspects of personality, symptoms of depression, and the marital satisfaction prior to, and 18 months following, surgery were assessed.

The team found that within couples, the personality of one person predicted the depression level of their partner 18 months later -- the results have been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The study demonstrated that a patient married to a generally neurotic and anxious spouse was more likely to report symptoms of depression 18 months after surgery.

"In other words, the spouse's personality -- quite independent of the patient's own personality -- exhibited a major influence on how well the patient was feeling and progressing towards recovery," according to Prof Ruiz.

Depression is an important consideration in the treatment of cardiac patients as it is increasingly recognized as a significant risk factor in heart attacks and death.

"Our study suggests there's a distinct possibility that the spouse's personality can increase depression which may then lead to these negative physical outcomes. It's an issue we will be looking at as we continue to follow these patients and as part of new studies here at WSU," Ruiz said.

The study also focused on how the spouses of patients coped over the course of the study.

"Spouses are often times a major source of daily care and take on many of the roles that the couple may have previously shared. We found that the same effects seen for patients also applied to spouses. Those spouses who cared for a person who was generally neurotic and anxious were more likely to report symptoms of depression as well as high levels of care-giving burden and strain a year-and-a-half later."

"We don't really understand what it is that a spouse with these negative personality traits is doing to cause this depression in their partner. Are they creating more stress, being less helpful, or burdening a person who is already having a difficult time with their own needs? It's a question that needs more study," Ruiz said.

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