AuthorHOLLIDAY, STEPHEN LEE.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPrevious research suggests that marital problems, inhibited communication, social rejection, and mutual hostility characterize the interpersonal behavior of depressed patients. The specificity and external validity of these results is questionable since most of this research used analogue designs or lacked important control groups necessary to separate the effects of depression from psychological disturbance in general. This study examined interpersonal aspects of depression within the context of the marital relationship. A battery of standardized and original questionnaires was administered to couples in three comparison groups defined by the wife's level of depression and psychotherapy patient status: a depressed patient group, a non-depressed patient group, and a normal control group. Results of planned comparisons revealed that, relative to the married couples with nondepressed patients and normal control wives, the depressed patients and their husbands saw their marriages as more maladjusted with less open communication. Husbands of the depressed patients also reported feeling more anxiety and acting less honestly or supportively specifically when interacting with their spouses. Husbands in the depressed patient group also rated their wives more negatively in terms of their overall interpersonal impact and saw their own actions as more generally negative when interacting with the depressed spouse. Both spouses in the depressed patient group rated themselves as feeling more hostile generally, while the husbands saw the depressed patients as specifically impacting them in a hostile manner. These results were seen as consistent with Coyne's interpersonal model of depression which suggests that depressed behavior and affect may be maintained by the responses it evokes from interacting others. The finding of greater hostility in both the depressed patients and their husbands replicates previous controlled research but contradicts most psychological theories of depression which predict lowered hostility in depression. Implications for further research and therapy with depressed patients are also discussed.