Science

Mental Health Improves When Couples Communicate Care

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 15, 2017 01:27 AM EST

Researchers say that mental health improves when couples convey love and support through communication. It turns out that the best gift you can give a stressed or depressed partner are thoughtful words to make them feel cared for. The study, published recently in the journal Developmental Psychology, reveals that when one partner is feeling stressed, support from their mate improves their self-esteem and lower risk of depression in the future.

To investigate the effects of caring communication on mental health, researchers surveyed more than 1,400 couples on self-esteem, levels of depression and mutual support. Lead researcher Matthew Johnson, assistant professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, says that efforts from a partner to help alleviate stress may prevent worsening of mental health problems. He also adds that, in fact, it could help keep the relationship healthy.

Mental health improves when our partner provides soothing words to lessen the impact of stress, especially high levels of stress. During this time, we are particularly vulnerable and perhaps that's why partner support could have significant and long-lasting effects, Johnson explains. Specifically, the research found that men experience a boost in their self-esteem when they support their partner, which "made them feel better about themselves", the WFMJ reports.

According to the findings, women also benefit from caring communication as receiving support from their partner leads to higher self-esteem and less depression in the future. So, from today and year-round, the study suggests giving "invisible support" to a depressed or stressed partner to reap beneficial effects from the relationship. According to the CBC News, mental health also improves when a partner shows other forms of support including listening or "handling the logistics of daily life by offering to take on tasks that aren't normally yours," such as planning meals or driving children to school.

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