Guest Post – Does marriage have any health benefits?

The short answer is yes, marriage appears to offer health benefits.
Those who are involved in a good relation relationship are generally happy, this makes sense. People seek the comfort of others and being involved in a relationship gives a sense of worth.
It has been shown that people who are in a relationship usually have less colds and require less doctor visits. It has also been shown that those who are hospitalized have shorter length of stays. 
It is unclear why patients are healthier. Theoretically, if you have someone who cares about you then they are likely to speak up then you are more likely to take care of yourself. If your spouse is not taking care of themselves then they are more likely to speak up if you are not taking care of yourself. 
A positive relationship can make you feel connected and happy causing an increase in the feel good hormones. This helps lower stress.
The very act of hugging can increase oxytocin, there is a reason for those warm feelings when you are hugged.
A good relationship should also help lower stress during difficult times, you have support to get you through this time.
What do the studies show? What are the health benefits of marriage?
Dementia -Married people who develop dementia have a delay in disability compared to those who are not married 
Depression -People who are married tend to have less risk of depression. Perhaps being involved with someone keeps you busy You may be less likely to lie in bed all day if you have to answer to somebody.
Heart disease -Married people who have cardiovascular disease and required a stent had better health outcomes than those who were not married. 
Screening tests  -Married persons were more likely than unmarried persons to report ever having undergone a colorectal endoscopy exam 
Health benefits have been reproduced in studies that researched same sex marriages. 
A good marriage is not the only relationship that makes us healthier. Any relationship can give a strong sense of connection or bond which offers positive health benefits.
A good relationship take work but it also shows that you can communicate which helps break down barriers and decrease the feeling of isolation. Those who are not involved in long term relationships may feel more isolated at times.
It is important to note that health benefits are not seen in those who are in bad marriages. 
A strong sense of connection helps us live a healthier life.
I have seen people do almost anything to get discharged home from the hospital, they patients want to go home and be with their loved ones. Sadly, I have seen the opposite. Some people are reluctant to leave the hospital, perhaps their home life is not so happy.
Health benefits of relationships do not stop with marriage. Having friends, being involved and enjoying life is as important as any other relationship.
Do you think there are health benefits of a good marriage?
Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS. is the founder of Health Street journal which provides health news and information so that we can live a healthier life. You can learn more about her and what she does at Health Street Journal or you could check out her social media link below:
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016 Jul;24(7):585-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Apr 5.
Families and Disability Onset: Are Spousal Resources Less Important for Individuals at High Risk of Dementia?
Rist PM1, Liu SY2, Glymour MM3.
PLoS One. 2015 Jul 31;10(7):e0134260. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134260. eCollection 2015.
Are Married Men Healthier than Single Women? A Gender Comparison of the Health Effects of Marriage and Marital Satisfaction in East Asia.
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Am Heart J. 2013 Oct;166(4):729-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2013.07.018. Epub 2013 Aug 29.
Effect of marital status on the outcome of patients undergoing elective or urgent coronary revascularization.
Barbash IM1, Gaglia MA Jr, Torguson R, Minha S, Satler LF, Pichard AD, Waksman R.
Am J Public Health. 2013 Feb;103(2):339-46. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301113. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Sharon T. Mclaughlin-Weber MD FACS

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