A Study of Depression and Relationships


A primary concern for Psychology research is depression. Depression
affects a great deal of our population and many aspects of an individual\'s
mental health and well-being. In my research of books, articles, and Internet
pages on depression, I chose to base my paper mainly on a 1994 article of a
study of depression, entitled Depression, Working Models of Others, and
Relationship Functioning, by Katherine B. Carnelley, Paula R. Pietromonaco, and
Kenneth Jaffe.
This study focuses on the idea that the type of care received in
childhood, positive or negative, has a great effect on relationship functioning
later in adulthood. But there are two links between child-rearing and
relationship functioning: attachment style and depression. Both derive from
the type of care received in childhood and affect relationship functioning, and
both exert a reciprocal influence on each other in adulthood. The researchers
of this study wanted to examine all the correlation\'s between type of care,
attachment style, depression, and relationship functioning. They proposed a
three part hypothesis: 1. A less positive childhood would result in an insecure
attachment style and depression, 2. Depressives would exhibit a preoccupied or
fearful style of attachment, and 3. attachment style would affect relationship
functioning more than depression.
The research was conducted in two independent studies. The first study
sampled 204 college women. Women were studied based on the very plausible
assumptions that women are more susceptible to depression than men and
relationships carry more significance with women than men. The women were
screened using the Beck Depression Inventory, a popular method of testing
consisting of 21 multiple choice questions to be administered by a clinician.
The questions range in scope from feelings of sadness to loss of libido. From
these results, a sample of 163 was taken: 73 whose scores indicated mild
depression. From this point the researchers administered various inventories to
assess the type of childhood care given, romantic attachment styles, and
relationship functioning.
Depression appears to be the independent variable, because the sample
was selected based on desired levels of depression. Once the distinction in
levels of depression had been made, childhood care, attachment style, and
relationship functioning were assessed in relation to depression.
The actual distinction between independent and dependent variables is
confusing. There are almost ten variables in this experiment: mild depression,
no depression, dating or not dating (101 out of 163 were involved in stable
dating relationships that averaged 19.99 months), positive or negative child-
rearing, attachment style (fearful, preoccupied, or secure), and relationship
functioning (overall satisfaction, quality of interactions with partner, and
conflict resolution style). The confusion arises in that the study is assessing
the relationships of so many variables.
The second study repeated the first except the sample consisted of
recovering clinically depressed married women and non depressed married women.
The first hypothesis 1a was confirmed as having a strong correlation
between women with negative childhood experiences with their mother and a
preoccupied and avoidant attachment style. Hypothesis 1b was confirmed by a
strong correlation between childhood experiences and depression.
A very strong correlation existed between depression and fearful and
preoccupied attachment styles, consistent with the second hypothesis.
The researchers found that attachment style had more of an impact than
depression, "attachment style was the most consistent predictor of relationship
functioning and generally predicted functioning better than depression,"
consistent with the third hypothesis.
The second study consisting of clinically depressed married women, and
non depressed women found a correlation between greater fearful avoidance and
preoccupation in recovering clinically depressed married women.
This study raised several interesting questions: To what can the
various types of relationship functioning and the multifarious correlation\'s
between the variables involved be ascribed? Are the factors controlling
depression external or internal? How do people develop their "working models"
of relationships? Do these models derive from childhood, or are they slowly
assimilated over the course of one\'s life?
I would now like to go on to the treatment and results of depression and
the affects on the ones they love. When one is depressive, some studies show
that one may become more productive at work, they need less, sleep, and also
concentrate harder on their work according to Syndrome of The Elite: Bipolar
Disorder II, by Carl Sherman. People affected sometimes can have quick,
innovative intelligence. They can be charismatic, have more energy, but they
can also have extreme mood swings to upset a relationship. When one is treated
with a medication such as lithium to stabilize their moods, one may actually
benefit from having such a disease. These people will be hard working, need
less sleep, and can get ahead in their jobs. Some of the top executives,
creative people, and entrepreneurs benefit from these conditions.