In their own words: How clinical depression affects romantic relationships

Liesel L. Sharabi, Amy L. Delaney, Leanne K. Knobloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study adopts an inductive and dyadic approach to illuminate how depression affects romantic relationships in people’s own words. Depressed couples (N = 135) responded to an open-ended item about ways that depression influences their romantic relationship. Content analytic results indicated eight categories of negative effects (emotional toll, romance and sexual intimacy, communication, isolation, lack of energy/motivation, dependence on the relationship, lack of understanding, and uncertainty) and one category of positive effects (enhanced intimacy). Dyadic analyses identified the effects of depression with the most agreement and complementarity within couples. Other findings revealed how people’s reports of the effects of depression varied by their own and their partner’s depression status. The discussion highlights the theoretical, empirical, and practical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-448
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2015


  • Content analysis
  • couples
  • depression
  • mental illness
  • romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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