The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Divorced and Drained

Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson

Physicians understandably worry about patients who suffer from chronic fatigue. The causes of such fatigue can often prove difficult to identify, and the consequences can be quite serious. As researchers at the University of Leipzig and Charité University of Medicine in Berlin explain in an investigation of the problem, such fatigue may be “triggered by previous perceived stress which may lead to impairment of performance and function,” hardly a surprising outcome given the persistent association between fatigue and “psychiatric morbidity, especially depression.”

Because of their concern over the pathological consequences of fatigue, these German researchers examine the ways “stress, including psychological stress, can . . . have a biopsychosocial influence on fatigue.” In this investigation, the researchers uncover fresh evidence that marriage protects the psyche and that divorce exposes it to harm.

When the researchers analyze psychological data for a nationally representative set of German adults, they limn a clear relationship between marital status and fatigue. “Marital status,” remark the researchers, “is significantly correlated to both fatigue and stress perception; being divorced or separated increases the probability of both.” Compared to married peers, divorced and separated Germans are more than half again (Odds Ratio, 1.57; p<0.001) as likely to suffer from stress. In contrast, employment status—always an issue with Marxist and feminist commentators—shows no statistical correlation with fatigue.

A country spending billions on psychotropic relief from fatigue might see in this German study new reason for concern in our national retreat from marriage.

(Rüya D. Kocalevent et al., “Determinants of Stress and Fatigue,” BMC Research Notes. 4 [July 20, 2011]: 238.)