Entries in depression (11)


Marriage Is Depressing, Especially For Some Women

Photo Credit: MedicalNewsToday.comMarriage is supposed to be a happy occasion, but on occasion it may also undermine mental health. To determine marriage’s effect on depressive symptoms, researchers assessed 152 women during their engagement and then again 6 months post-wedding. Overall, rough 1 in 10 women (12%) reported increased depressive symptoms from before to after marriage (by comparison 6% experienced fewer symptoms). Researchers also explored uncertainty in one’s self, the partner, and the relationship and found that when uncertainty increased in any domain, it coincided with increases in depressive symptoms. Overall, those who were more certain about their relationship experiences less “post wedding blues.”



Scott, A. M., & Stafford, L. (2018). An investigation of relational turbulence and depressive symptoms in newly married women. Personal Relationships, 25, 22-37. 


Life after Breakup: An International Survey

To better understand life after breakup, researchers surveyed 5,705 people in nearly 100 countries about their breakups and experience of grief afterwards. The most common reason for breaking up was “lack of communication.” Women were more likely to initiate a breakup; those who were broken up with experienced more grief than initiators. Post-relationship grief was more severe emotionally (e.g., anxiety, depression) than physically (e.g., insomnia, weight change). Among those who were dumped, women reported slightly more emotional and physical consequences than men, although post-relationship grief was high for both men and women. 

Morris, C. E., Reiber, C., & Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9, 270-282.


In Health and Illness: Your Partner’s Mood Matters

Ever felt like the moods of the people around you affect your own mood? Psychologists have long been interested in the idea of such emotional “spillover”, especially in relationships. For example, research has shown that happiness is contagious, as are bad moods across a range of stressful situations. It seems intuitive that if we are living with someone who is depressed then our own mood could also be negatively affected. 

Before getting into specific research on this topic, I should note that it is generally hard to disentangle the exact nature of the association between two people’s mental states, especially when they spend a lot of time together. Was Joan’s depression a reaction to being surrounded by John’s depressive, or were they both depressed all along? (Or is there no relationship whatsoever between their mental health statuses?). Bottom line: like many things, the only way to really know whether two individuals’ mental states spill over to one another is to look at both of their mental health status across time.

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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue?

I regularly teach a college course on “Family Relationships”, which, as you’d probably guess, is disproportionately (and stereotypically) more popular among women than men (most of whom, incidentally, are neither engaged nor in a relationship with their likely future spouse). When we get to the topic of the transition to marriage, I like to ask my students, “How many of you have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to your future wedding?” The number of hands that go up, sometimes sheepishly, is surprisingly large (obviously, this is a non-scientific personal observation from the front of the classroom in Texas). What I think this informal poll illustrates is the enormous amount of pressure women experience when it comes to planning that ‘special day.’ And why not? Getting married is a big deal. But all that pressure and buildup can come with a cost.

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Cleaning Up from the Holiday Season

Maybe you spent months in a race against the clock to produce the most memorable Christmas gift your spouse has ever received.  Maybe you scrimped and saved every spare dime to reward your children with the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets or items of clothing.  Maybe you simply procrastinated and completed your holiday shopping in a matter of hours before the “big” night with the family!  Regardless of your preparation, or lack thereof…it’s over.  Now that we have embraced and celebrated the holiday season, for many of us our thoughts turn to the “clean up” of the holiday fury.  By clean up, I don’t mean the laborious task of taking down the tree, or uncovering the mantle from the holiday stockings that were hung quite meticulously only hours after carving the Thanksgiving turkey and ham.  By clean up, I mean the often inevitable crash that comes after the anticipation and the climax of the holiday season. 

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What Does It Matter? Why Depression Is So Important In Troubled Relationships 

Few people would be surprised to hear that couples in troubled relationships can also be depressed -- certainly not those of us who've been in such relationships and know how depressing they can be.

Frequently, the conflict in these relationships and distress that results can become so overwhelming that any other problems, like depression, are typically hidden from view. A couple I'm presently treating, Jim and Stacey (not they’re real names), are engrained in an attack-withdrawal routine (i.e., she criticizes him and then he avoids her and doesn't talk to her for days). This pattern is common in troubled relationships, but their hostility deftly masks, to all but the trained eye, depression’s underlying influence.

But does it really matter if one partner is depressed -- especially when couples like this are constantly at each other's throats? Yes, it does. To understand why, let's look at some research on the effects of depression on partners within troubled relationships.

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“I Need Closure!” Why It Is Not Possible To Get It

“Closure” is a term I have heard bandied about by many of my friends over the years, but I have always wondered what it really means. For example, after my friend Daphne’s long-distance boyfriend broke up with her over the phone, she told me she needed to fly from NYC to London to see him in person to “get closure.” Even after she saw him in person, she still didn’t feel like things were really over. The meaning of closure is something I have grappled with when trying to make sense of one of my own past relationships. I spent the better part of 10 years trying to get closure with The Question Mark so that I could move on, trying everything from writing him long treatises on why our relationship could never work, to hashing things out in person in order to finally say “goodbye.”

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(Lack of) Partner Support and Criticism Predicts Depression

NPR recently reported on a new study by Dr. Alan Teo and colleagues on the link between relationship quality and depression. Those of you with critical, unsupportive partners should start looking for a therapist with a comfy couch soon!

Click here to check out NPR's coverage of this work.


From Bride to Blues: Examining the Prevalence of Post-Nuptial Depression

As someone who has never walked down the aisle, I have to say that Allison Scott’s presentation about the prevalence of "bridal blues" was an eye-opening experience. Not only did I learn that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a wedding day survival guide, (as they compare planning a wedding to surviving a natural disaster), but also I learned that most women experience a post-wedding “let down.”

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Can We Overcome the Damage I Caused to Our Relationship?

A reader recently posed a question to us, which has been rephrased and shortened to protect the submitter’s anonymity:

Up until a few weeks ago, I was in a deep, passionate, relationship with a young man. We dated for a little over a year until things began to go bad. We had very similar, difficult child childhoods. We struggled through a lot together, even talking each other out of suicide.

Unfortunately, a couple months ago, I started having serious nightmares that lasted for weeks. I have suffered from depression and anxiety and take medication, but have a fear that I will become addicted to them (my mother suffers from addictions). I decided to stop taking my medications cold turkey and try to fix myself without using pills. This was the worst decision I have ever made in my entire life. I began to have anxiety attacks, cut myself, and have intense desires to end my life. I never told my boyfriend I had stopped taking my mediations. He was there for me, but he couldn't bear watching me destroy myself. He blamed himself for not being able to help me.

We broke up, and it was the hardest thing. Afterwards, I was not in my right mind—I was still off my medication. I pursued him even after we weren't dating anymore; I even had a panic attack in public while trying to talk to him. It has now been a month since our breakup, and he has started dating someone new. We still hang out alone together about once a week and we're always laughing and giggling. He has faith that I can change for the better, and I finally feel the same. I got help, went to counseling, and am back on my medication. I feel stronger than ever. I'm not entirely myself, but I feel as though I'm on my way.

I truly believe that we are soulmates. I love him to death. He's my prince, my Jack Dawson, my hero. So, my question for you, is do you think there is any chance of us getting back together?

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Trust: It Does a Body Good

image source: reputation-communications.comTrust is good for your relationship, but does it also benefit your physical health? A sample of married, engaged, and dating couples completed surveys every six months for for two and a half years. Partners experiencing more trust in their relationships subsequently had lower depression and anxiety, which in turn were associated with enhanced mental and better physical health. Exercising trust in your relationship is good for your mind and body. 

Schneider, I. K., Konijn, E. A., Righetti, F., & Rusbult, C. E. (2011). A healthy dose of trust: The relationship between interpersonal trust and health. Personal Relationships, 18, 668-676.