Being Single Won’t Make You Insane … Will It?


The Telegraph addresses a very important question today:

Does being single make you bonkers?

It seems Taiwanese health minister Yaung Chih-liang may have taken those studies saying marriage makes you healthier a bit too far. (Because single people are crazy, and they will cut you if you say so. Also, those studies are all run by married people. Obviously.)

Anyway, Yuang Chih-liang decided that if married people are healthier, well, then, single people should just pay more for health insurance. Because chances are, they’re going to go crazy sooner or later.

He also urged people to get on the ball and start making babies stat, because that helps with “emotional well-being.” (So says the man who has never heard a crying baby go on for hours.)

Of course, it took an unmarried lady to point out the ills of his argument, and he eventually said sorry (sort of): “I apologize. I should not have used the term ‘mental illness,’ which is very sensitive,” he said in a news conference.

Still, the debate surges on. Are married people healthier? Are healthier people married? And just because single people are single, are married people allowed to call them crazy?

According to studies, marriage can make you healthier. But it also can make you unhealthier, depending on key questions like who you’re married to, how crazy they are, how healthy the relationship is, and the like.

Sure, there’s some evidence to the healthiness of getting hitched:

An Australian study of almost 11,000 people by psychologist Dr. David de Vaus found that half as many married people suffer from stress, compared with single people, judged by their alcohol and drug abuse.

Married people are less depressed and have fewer alcohol-related problems, as compared with unmarried ones, found an earlier report in the U.S. Journal of Marriage and the Family.

But that’s not the only story, and beyond that, I’d venture to say that drinking and stress have a more complicated relationship than is considered by these studies.

Additionally, per the New York Times:

Several new studies show that the marriage advantage doesn’t extend to those in troubled relationships, which can leave a person far less healthy than if he or she had never married at all. One recent study suggests that a stressful marriage can be as bad for the heart as a regular smoking habit.

And despite years of research suggesting that single people have poorer health than those who marry, a major study released last year concluded that single people who have never married have better health than those who married and then divorced.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cosmo Hallstrom, a consultant psychiatrist and spokesman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, says it may be more of a chicken-and-egg thing: He thinks that mental illness causes the “singleton status, rather than living alone leading to problems with emotional well-being.”

Anyway, at the end of the day, getting married isn’t like going to the doctor or taking a pill. You should probably go into it for a few more reasons than not getting pneumonia (although we can tell you right now, pneumonia sucks). And you probably shouldn’t be scared into it by the Taiwanese minister of health, or anyone else.

But you should stop wearing that tin-foil hat.

Also, ladies,

An analysis of the annual British Household Panel (BHP) survey in 2004 showed cohabiting is better for men’s mental health, but marriage is better for women’s.

Probably because your mom won’t stop nagging until you actually get married. She and Yaung Chih-liang should hang.