Building Relationships After Depression

Many things can temporarily derail a relationship, including an episode of depression. Although mental health issues can take a toll on your relationship with your spouse, children, extended family, friends, and coworkers, they do not have to cause permanent damage. It is possible to get relationships back on track after treatment.

The Power of Positive Relationships

Rebuilding relationships, especially with your significant other, has multiple health and emotional benefits. Studies show that having a relationship with a partner provides a protective effect against mental health problems, and this protection increases as the length of the relationship increases. People who are at high risk for developing depression and other mental health disorders benefit from deliberate efforts to improve the stability and duration of their significant relationships.

Marriage and depression exert a strong effect on each other. In fact, a stressful marriage is the leading cause of depression among women. Furthermore, if one partner suffers from depression, the other partner is likely to suffer as well. Having a rocky marriage after depression treatment is associated with greater severity of depression down the road.

A healthy social network supports people prone to depression and helps them handle life's stressors more effectively. Mental health experts believe strong social support is a vital component to preventing depression.

According to psychologist, author, and relationship expert Bob Murray, Ph.D, the key to overcoming depression is to have a core of truly supportive, nurturing relationships. Murray says positive relationships can actually reprogram the brain by stimulating new neural connections.

Rebuilding Relationships after Depression

If you've suffered from bouts of depression, mental health experts offer a few suggestions for rebuilding the important relationships in your life.

Get treatment. You must seek treatment for your depression—and stick to your treatment—before you can successfully rebuild your relationships.

Develop skills to cope with stress. Stress can cause or exacerbate depression. Learning to cope with stress helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed, which makes it more likely you'll express negative emotions to those closest to you.

Seek couples counseling. A trained, objective expert helps both partners look at how depression has affected the relationship. In counseling, you'll learn how to rebuild trust and develop effective communication skills.

Finally, Murray has advice for spouses of depressed individuals: firmly maintain your boundaries. He says, "be aware of and insist on getting your needs met. Any relationship is a mutual satisfaction of needs regardless of either party's state of health."


Medical News Today. "Long-Term Relationships 'Are Good For Your Mental Health'." Web. 7 January 2011.

Mental Health America. "What to Do When Depression Enters a Relationship." Web.

Beattie, Gregory S. "Social Causes of Depression." Web. November 2005.

Murray, Bob Ph.D. "Depression and Relationships: Living with a Depressed Person." Web. 1 August 2004.

Murray, Bob and Fortinberry, Alicia. "DEPRESSION-A Social Problem with a Relationship Solution." AHP Perspective June / July 2004. Web.