A depressed partner may rely on the attachment relationship with their significant other. If bids for affection are responded to positively, depression may lessen, while bids that are ignored or responded to negatively may worsen or deepen the depression. Depression does not need to have been initially caused by the couple's relationship, but these will certainly have a cyclic relationship. In fact, some research has found that a positive attachment relationship can predict a more speedy recovery from depression. If a couple were to suffer from one or both partners experiencing depression due to poor attachment, there are a few different therapeutic approaches.
First, I would help the couple define the cycle of depression. Then I would explore theirs bids for attention and affections and how they each respond to these. Following this exploratory phase, I would focus on building the partnership between the couple. Maybe if they can learn to work against the negative cycle, they could move forward from it. At this point, the couple would work independently from therapy sessions and try to practice what they had learned from treatment so far. Sessions would focus on addressing issues they could not work through on their own. They would continue to learn new ways to communicate, especially on how to accept bids or at least respond more sympathetically if they do not have the time to respond positively. I feel that if a couple can learn to fight depression together, they will have a better chance at healing their relationship in the long term.
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