Analyzing data from nearly 5000 participants, with a follow up at 10 years, researchers have scientifically established what most people know intuitively. If your relationships are bad, your mood is likely to follow.
New information coming out of the University of Michigan makes the link. “Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression,” says psychiatrist Alan Teo, MD, of the University of Michigan. “This is the first time that a study has identified this link in the general population.”
Relationship strain, feelings of isolation in relationships, a lack of support and other issues among spouses, families and friends contribute to depression. It isn’t the quantity of relationships that is important, according to the research, but the quality.
“The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease,” Teo says. “What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression.”
What can you do to improve the quality of your relationships and increase your mood? Here are some ideas:
Which are the most important relationships in your life? What is wonderful about them? What is missing? What steps can you take to improve them, beyond passively wishing that other people will magically change?
Do you know how to take another person’s perspective? Do you understand how to look at a relationship from a neutral perspective? Do you know your preferred way to receive love? Do you know your partner’s? Do you know how to mediate a conflict when you are in the midst of one?
Most of us do not have great intuition about these things. Most often, we assume other people should give love in the precise manner that we like to receive it. Most people assume that they should defend themselves with solid information when attacked. Most people assume the words they say are the most important aspects of the relationship. These assumptions are all dead wrong, even damaging to relationships.
Get some relationship skills! My professional bias is toward NLP or neuro-linguistic skills, but any conscious study is usually beneficial.
The number one destroyer of relationships, in my experience working with people, is self-sabotage.
Beyond pure relating skills, self-sabotage is the number one issue in relationships. Most sabotage is done unconsciously, which is why it is imperative to expand your awareness? Do you unwittingly sabotage your relationships? Here are just a few signs that you do:
1. You don’t express your needs
2. You take on more than your fair share of the burden
3. You resist accountability to your partner
4. You act like a child that needs supervision
5. You annoy your partner and encourage rejection
There are hundreds of signs that you are sabotaging your relationship, most of them leading to feelings of being controlled, deprived or rejected.
For your relationship to last – or more importantly – to be peaceful and happy, you must address the unconscious patterns of self-sabotage. To learn more about self-sabotage, watch this free, 20-minute video.
It is now firmly established that the health of your relationship is tied directly to your mental health. Guard it with care.
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Last reviewed: 17 May 2013