Effect of Spouse's Depression

Men are just as likely as women to become unhappy in a relationship when their partner suffers from depression or anxiety, according to new research.

The finding bolsters a growing body of research that shows that mental illness affects not only individuals but also their families.

Although men and women were affected equally by a partner's illness, cases of depression appeared to cause more marital dissatisfaction than anxiety.

"The popular notion would be that relationships are more important for women than for men," said Mark Whisman, associate professor of psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who led the study. "This suggests that is not the case."

The seriousness of a patient's depression or anxiety predicted the degree of marital dissatisfaction, Whisman said. "People who were more depressed or more anxious reported lower levels of marital satisfaction, and their partners reported more marital dissatisfaction."

One implication is that the benefits of treatment extend beyond individuals. "If people were to get treatment for depression or anxiety, it is likely to help not only themselves but their relationships," Whisman said.

The study was conducted among 774 heterosexual and same-sex couples from seven states. Couples were evaluated for their marital satisfaction and whether they were suffering from depression or anxiety. The findings were published yesterday in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

-- Shankar Vedantam

Perspective-Shattering Map

Most maps take the standard approach of highlighting the geographical size of countries -- an approach that reinforces the idea that those with the biggest land masses are the most important. But what would the world look like -- and which countries would we suddenly start paying more attention to -- if countries were displayed in a way that emphasizes their populations?

The perspective-shattering answer appears below, as created by cartographer Paul Breding and ODT Inc., an Amherst, Mass., map-making company (www.odt.org). In this view of the world -- a view, the company says, that is uniquely "fair to all people" and in some ways a better predictor of countries' future impact on world affairs -- each small box represents 1 million people. (The 41 countries with fewer than 1 million people -- including the "smallest," the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu with 11,636 inhabitants -- appear in a list over the South Atlantic).

All maps sacrifice some aspects of reality to emphasize others; this one, created with customized software, sacrifices square miles to emphasize the human dimension.

Among the details that emerge:

* China and India are the world's "biggest" nations, home to 20 percent and 17 percent of the global population, respectively. The United States is third but with a far smaller portion -- 4.5 percent.

* The fourth biggest country is Indonesia, a nation that gets little attention in standard cartographic measures but whose population of 242 million rivals that of the United States (295 million).

* Standard projections show Canada as a huge country and Mexico as much smaller, but here it is plain that Mexico has three times Canada's 33 million inhabitants.

* Taken together, even the Caribbean islands are bigger than Canada.

* Pakistan (162 million) and little Bangladesh (144 million) are huge nations -- each bigger than France and Germany combined.

* The African continent, as measured by its people, shrinks relative to its land mass. But Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia are each bigger than France or Britain. So are Turkey and Iran.

-- Rick Weiss

This map by Paul Breding and ODT Inc. emphasizes populations rather than land masses.