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Depression can have a variety of negative effects on a relationship, but this study suggests it may make people give their partner less credit than they deserve.
Conducted by researchers from the University of Auckland, the study found individuals experiencing depression have a more distorted view of their partner’s level of commitment to the relationship.
The New Zealand-based study consisted of 78 heterosexual couples who recorded their feelings about their own commitment to the relationship as well as what they imagined their partner’s to be.
Researchers also assessed how often each partner experienced depressive symptoms and tracked the responses over the course of three weeks.
The results showed more depressed participants both underestimated their partner’s devotion and overestimated their own negative behavior as viewed by the partner.
underestimated their partner’s devotion.”
According to the research, this distorted view can prove problematic in a relationship, as a person’s level of security and satisfaction is directly impacted by their partner’s sense of contentedness.
Study authors said couples can combat this pattern by maintaining a clear awareness of the shared and mutual commitment in mind and not reacting too quickly in times of doubt.
“Making quick decisions and taking actions without considering them carefully can fuel negative thinking and false beliefs, undermining your ability to use reason,” said psychologist Joseph Cilona.
Seeking an objective viewpoint from a trusted friend and maintaining a regular sleeping schedule might also offer perspective.
Cilona strongly encourages couples to try “mirroring,” essentially repeating back exactly what a partner has said before responding to it. This can offer a great clarifying benefit to important conversation.
“This not only dramatically improves the accuracy and quality of communication, but it also creates a strong sense of being heard and understood in each person,” he said.
From: The University of Auckland.