Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 8:52 EDT

Women who marry as children at greater risk for mental illness

September 1, 2011

TORONTO, Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ – New research from the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) shows that women who marry as
adolescents have higher rates of lifetime mental illness than women who
marry in adulthood. The study is published in the current issue of Pediatrics.

In the first study of its kind, scientists looked at statistics from the
National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions
conducted in the United States and found significant mental health
trends common among American women who were married before the age of

“We found that the level of lifetime mental disorders among women
married as children is much higher than for women married as adults,”
said Dr. Yann Le Strat, an Adjunct Scientist with CAMH and principal
investigator on the study. “Being married as a child is associated with
a 41 per cent increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorder.”

Almost nine per cent of females in the US were married before the age of

According to data, the most common mental health problems among women
who were married as children are mood and anxiety disorders such as
panic disorder, bipolar disorder and depression. Women who were married
at a young age were also more likely to have a lower level of education
and income, and come from rural areas of the United States. These women
were also at higher risk for nicotine dependence.

Though the study is based on US data, this research also holds
implications for countries where child marriage is more common and
points to a possible global public health concern. “In many developing
countries, it is common for women to be married as children. In India,
for example, about half of women are married before the age of 18,”
said Dr. Le Strat.

“We know that child marriage is associated with elevated risks of HIV
transmission, unwanted pregnancy and death from childbirth. But while
previous studies have looked at the physical health consequences of
child marriage, the impact on mental health had never been studied
before,” said Dr. Bernard Le Foll, co-author and a clinician scientist
with CAMH. “Our research may help governments deliver mental health
services, and could help inform debate around marriage legislation.”

Mood and anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental illness
problems, and are 1.5 times more prevalent amongst women than men. They
can usually be successfully managed with proper treatment ranging from
prescription medication to cognitive behavioural therapy.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental
health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy
development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people
affected by mental health and addiction issues.

CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating

SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Source: PR Newswire