Bad news for Courtney Stodden, the teenage bride who married 51-year-old Doug Hutchison at age 16: child brides who marry under the age of 18 experience much higher rates of mental illness.
Face-to-face interviews with nearly 25,000 women who were at least 18 revealed that 53 percent of those who had been child brides had some psychiatric disorder, such as depression or anxiety….Former child brides were also more likely to be diagnosed as “nicotine dependent” and with “anti-social personality disorder.”
The research doesn’t necessarily link marrying under the age of 18 to psychological disorders, rather just an elevated risk of developing them. Child marriage is on the decline in the United States but many states lower the age one can marry from 18 to 16 with parental consent; Hawaii and Missouri will go as low as 15.
Dr. Yann Le Strat, of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, and colleagues write in Pediatrics that “support for psychiatric vulnerabilities of women married as children is required” when considering the impact of very young marriages.
And while Courtney and Doug are hard at work on their new reality show exposing their life together, it’s worth noting that such a union can carry very serious mental consequences for many young girls.