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How Depression Affects Relationships and Ways to Cope

Depression is a prevalent and debilitating condition that affects not only the individual but also their relationships. Understanding its impact on interpersonal dynamics can help both individuals suffering from depression and their loved ones navigate these challenges. In this post, we will explore how depression affects relationships and strategies for coping.

Depression and Its Impact on Relationships Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, feelings of worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These symptoms can significantly strain relationships.

Emotional Distance Depression often causes individuals to withdraw from social activities, leading to feelings of isolation and emotional distance in relationships (Segrin, 2005).

Communication Difficulties Depression can negatively impact communication, making it difficult for individuals to express their feelings or needs (Gotlib & Hammen, 2002).

Increased Conflict Depression may increase irritability and result in frequent conflicts with partners, friends, and family members (Davila, Karney, Hall, & Bradbury, 2003).

Strategies to Cope with the Impact of Depression on Relationships Understanding depression’s impact on relationships is the first step. The next is learning how to cope with these challenges.

Open Communication Open, honest communication about the depressive symptoms and their effects can enhance mutual understanding and lessen relationship strain (Belcher, Laurenceau, Graber, Cohen, Dasch, & Siegel, 2011).

Educate Yourself and Others Understanding depression, its symptoms, and treatments can help both the individual with depression and their loved ones navigate the condition (Hosseini & Moller, 2012).

Professional Help Seeking professional help is crucial. Therapy approaches like client-centered, compassion-based, somatic therapy and embodied relational gestalt have been shown to effectively manage depression.

Joining Support Groups Support groups provide an opportunity to connect with others who understand what it's like to navigate depression, offering validation, encouragement, and practical advice (Pistrang, Barker, & Humphreys, 2008).

Self-Care Practices Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and mindfulness exercises can help manage depressive symptoms and improve overall wellbeing (Knapen, Vancampfort, Moriën, & Marchal, 2015).

Depression can significantly impact relationships, but with understanding, open communication, professional help, and self-care, it's possible to navigate these challenges successfully.

Reach out today for a free consultation with a therapist in Boulder, CO.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

  2. Segrin, C. (2005). The impact of social skills deficits and negative affectivity on interpersonal outcomes. Journal of social and clinical psychology, 24(1), 215-235.

  3. Gotlib, I. H., & Hammen, C. L. (2002). Handbook of depression. Guilford Press.

  4. Davila, J., Karney, B. R., Hall, T. W., & Bradbury, T. N. (2003). Depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction: Within-subject associations and the moderating effects of gender and neuroticism. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(4), 557.

  5. Belcher, A., Laurenceau, J. P., Graber, E. C., Cohen, L. H., Dasch, K. B., & Siegel, S. D. (2011). Daily Support in Couples Coping with Early Stage Breast Cancer: Maintaining Intimacy during Adversity. Health Psychology, 30(6), 665–673.

  6. Hosseini, N., & Moller, S. (2012). The impact of integrated health system changes, accelerated due to an economic crisis, on delivery of evidence-based chronic depression care: A systematic review. Systematic Reviews, 1(1), 1-10.

  7. Cuijpers, P., Karyotaki, E., Weitz, E., Andersson, G., Hollon, S. D., & van Straten, A. (2014). The effects of psychotherapies for major depression in adults on remission, recovery and improvement: a meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry, 14(1), 1-14.

  8. Pistrang, N., Barker, C., & Humphreys, K. (2008). Mutual help groups for mental health problems: A review of effectiveness studies. American Journal of Community Psychology, 42(1-2), 110-121.

  9. Knapen, J., Vancampfort, D., Moriën, Y., & Marchal, Y. (2015). Exercise therapy improves both mental and physical health in patients with major depression. Disability and Rehabilitation, 37(16), 1490-1495.

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