Study claims losing your spouse is good for you

A NEW study suggests losing your spouse can be good for your health - but only if you are a woman.

Widows were found to suffer less stress after their husbands die, but the opposite was true for men who are thought to become over-reliant on their partners. 

The findings from the University of Padova appear to be contrary to the idea that being married has health benefits. 

Despite previous research showing people who are married live longer than singletons, the study of almost 2,000 over-65s has highlighted gender specific differences.

Dr Caterina Trevisan, from the university, explained that for many men having a wife meant the had live-in household management and someone to look after their health.

In contrast, Dr Trevisan said women were "more likely to feel stressed and find their role restrictive and frustrating".

"Married women may suffer from the effects of caregiver burden, since they often devote themselves to caring for their husband in later life," she said.

This was one of the factors behind a lower risk of depression among unmarried women, as those who had tied the knot experienced more martial problems than men and less wellness in their marriage overall.

In addition, women who lost their husbands were nearly a quarter less likely to be frail in later life than men, contrary to bachelors and widowers who had an increased chance of frailty.

They also discovered spinsters had a lower risk of suffering weight loss and exhaustion.

Researchers found that single women were more likely to have greater job satisfaction, higher activity levels at work and a lower risk of social isolation, as they maintained relationships with friends and family better than men.

Dr Trevisan continued: "Consistently with this picture, the higher educational level and better economic status seen among the single women in our study may well reflect a social condition that would promote a greater psychological and physical wellbeing.

"Many studies have shown that women are less vulnerable to depression than men in widowhood, probably because they have greater coping resources and are better able to express their emotions.

"These aspects may help to explain the lower risk of exhaustion seen in single women, who are likewise more socially integrated than single men, and consequently less exposed to frailty."

She confessed that she and colleagues had expected all unmarried people to exhibit more signs of ailing health, due to the perceived benefits of marriage, but found it only applied to men.

Dr Trevisan added: "Our results partially contrast with previous reports of a weaker, but still protective effect of marriage on mortality, health status, and depression in women, as in men.

"However sociological studies have suggested unmarried status is more disadvantageous for men than for women, and marriage protects the male gender more than the female one."

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