When depression and relationship distress intersect
Falling into a state of depression is hard enough, but to do so while in a relationship can add a whole new level of stress to the situation. Often times, depression and relationship conflict coincide. In this post, Emotionally-Focused Couple Therapy and attachment theory are explained in order to better understand some of the underlying causes of these presenting problems and how to recover from them.
When someone is both depressed and experiencing distress in their relationship, it is not always obvious which problem came first. Depression in one or both partners can be detrimental to a romantic relationship, and conversely, chronic relationship distress can also lead to depression in one or both partners. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that depression and relationship distress go hand in hand; after all, it is known that the health of our relationships has a major sway on our overall well-being. However, by examining this relationship through the perspective of Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT), we begin to learn how our emotional health is affected by the security of our bond with our partner, and vice-versa. In turn, we gain a better knowledge of how individuals undergoing EFCT with their partner may also begin to see improvements in their mood and relationship.
To know the connection between depression and relationship distress, it is first useful to understand romantic relationships through the lens of attachment theory. Attachment theory states that adults who have a secure attachment with their romantic partner feel more supported, less anxious, and are more capable of regulating their emotions. Thus, these people are better able to cope with the stressors of daily life and are less susceptible to symptoms of depression. Depression can then be conceptualized as a reaction to attachment distress, brought on by perceived rejection by, loss of connection to, or abandonment by someone of attachment significance.
Next, to understand how EFCT can help those who are depressed, it is necessary to understand how EFCT works. In a nutshell, the goals of the EFCT therapist include helping a couple recognize the negative interaction cycles they engage in and guiding them to replace these interactions with those that will foster closeness and security. In this way, depression itself might be projected as an external power that controls the interactions between partners. If EFCT is successful in establishing a more secure bond between partners, each partner is better protected against attachment distress and depression.
If you or your partner is experiencing symptoms of depression, and there is distress in your relationship because of it, it is worth considering making an appointment with an EFCT therapist at Great Lakes Psychology Group. It is possible that by improving your relationship, the depressed partner(s) will begin to experience relief from their depression symptoms. There is nothing to lose and a lot that can be gained. Schedule an appointment with a skilled EFCT therapist today.