“She’s the security I always wanted,” reads the cover of February Vogue, featuring pop star Justin Bieber embracing his wife of five months, Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin). Now, sources have told People magazine that Justin is receiving counseling for depression, and Hailey revealed to Vogue that she was “deeply lonely” during the first few weeks of marriage.
Despite a general cultural consensus that the honeymoon phase is all googly eyes and sweet nothings, data actually proves the opposite for a not-insignificant group of marrieds. And though Justin hasn’t shared the cause or trigger of his current depression (the People sources were clear that it has “nothing to do with Hailey”), experts say it’s not at all uncommon for newlyweds to experience depression or loneliness once the reception lights dim.
“One common reason why people feel depressed after getting married is because they spend most of their time, energy, and attention on planning for the wedding day rather than planning for the marriage,” says Erika Lawrence, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and director of translational science at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. “Things often feel very anti-climactic after the wedding day is over, because that has been the focus for so long. Afterward, the couple is back to reality and their ’normal lives,’ which can lead to a drop in mood.”
To wit: Per a 2015 study in The Journal of Family Issues, almost half of the newlywed women surveyed said they felt depressed or “let down” after they got married. In another larger study published in Relationships in 2018, nearly 12 percent of participants reported increases in depressive symptoms after their wedding. (Hailey, for one, told Vogue that her post-marriage loneliness stemmed in part from homesick feelings for her parents.)
Even for those who do experience the honeymoon high, it’s often all too short. Some lucky couples get a full year of bliss, yet others may get none at all, says social scientist Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.
And, in more bummer news (sorry...), eventually even those who do feel nuptial joy typically “go back to feeling as happy or as unhappy as they were when they were single,” says Dr. DePaulo, author of “Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.”
A large 2012 meta-analysis in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirms this. Researchers discovered that tying the knot can temporarily boost feelings of well-being but that this post-marriage period is short-lived, and you quickly return to your premarital levels of satisfaction.
Justin was open with Vogue about struggling with his mental health in the past, saying, “I’m the emotionally unstable one.” While none of our sources are treating Justin, it has been shown that marriage and mental health issues such as depression often result in a far-shorter elation period. For example, in a study published in 2015 in Prevention Science, for a certain group of men and women, many of whom had a history of depression, marital satisfaction decreased rapidly or steadily in the first couple of years of marriage.
If you’re a newlywed who’s less than euphoric, know that you’re not alone (and that it’s OK to feel how you’re feeling). If you or your spouse are experiencing symptoms of depression, there are so many things you can do to feel better, from high-intensity exercise to setting the right mantras to seeing a therapist or trying out antidepressant meds. Plus, check out these nine resources you can tap if you need help for depression. Wishing you — and the Biebers — only the best.