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Marital Experiences and Depression in an Arranged Marriage Setting1

Understanding the consequences of marital experiences for individual mental health provides insight into how social relationships shape individual well-being. Using newly available, clinically validated diagnostic interviews with more than 10,000 respondents, the authors assess the associations between marital experiences, intimate partner violence (IPV), and mental health, investigating how they differ by gender in a setting of universal marriage. Integrating measures of arranged marriage, IPV, and marital quality into a single comprehensive analysis of the marital experiences reveals that becoming married can be positively associated with subsequent major depressive disorder for women. IPV is a strong and independent risk factor for depression, but it only mediates a small portion of the consequences of marriage and arranged marriage on depression. The authors also investigate the associations between the positive and negative dimensions of marital quality and depression. Overall, the associations between marital experiences and mental health should be understood as contingent on both gender and the social contexts of marriage. Depending on these factors, specific marital experiences have the potential to increase transitions to depression.