Depression, Poor Social Skills Are Linked

Jul 08, 2010 By La Monica Everett-Haynes
Chris Segrin, who heads the UA computer science department, is publishing a new book chapter that considers social skills in the context of depression. He says it is important not only to consider biology, but also interpersonal contexts, such as a person's familial upbringing and the ways they connect - or not - to friends and partners.

( -- Depression is widely accepted as a medical diagnosis, but focusing exclusively on the biological side misses important points about why people become depressed. Chris Segrin, who heads the UA's communication department, argues for a more expansive understanding of depression, one that merges its biological and social influences.

He has authored a chapter, "Depressive Disorders and Interpersonal Processes," that focuses on the influence of deficits and interpersonal connections.

The chapter has been accepted for publication in the Handbook of Interpersonal , which will include chapters by other researchers on topics such as interpersonal psychology and patterns. The book is scheduled to be published during the fall by John Wiley & Sons.

"Researchers haven't been able to isolate a single cause that leads to ," Segrin said, noting that the effects of interpersonal relationships have "been ignored" historically.

"But, what we are learning is that to have a complete understanding of depression, we must have a strong understanding of what is happening interpersonally to a person," he added.

For his chapter, Segrin focused on research related to social skills, interpersonal responses to depression and "dysfunctional" interactions among family members.

"We find that the relationship between social skills and depression is robust," said Segrin, a behavioral scientist who has conducted numerous studies on interpersonal relationships and mental health, including loneliness and anxiety.

He also found that not only do depressed people sometimes lack social skills, but the very way in which their relationships operate can contribute to increased feelings of depression. This applies to those who are clinically or mildly depressed.

"Depressed people often get into situations that are difficult because their depressive behaviors are really off-putting to other people," Segrin said.

"Naturally, the depressed person can't help that, but they are being cast aside by their social network. This actually maintains their depressive state."

Additionally, those who are depressed have a tendency to feel rejected and often "sabotage" certain situations by arriving at them with built-in negativity.

"Depressed people often are their own worst enemy. They will go into situations that produce the very outcomes they dread," he said. "So depressed people must become aware of this and monitor their own behavior."

But this requires a shift, as seeking treatment or therapy for mental health issues remains taboo, Segrin also noted.

Depressed people must reorient their negative thoughts about treatment, seek out the treatments that work best and improve their , he said.

"Other people need to be aware that it takes an extreme amount of patience to live with or be in a close relationship with a depressed person," he said. "And you have to encourage them to seek help and normalize treatments so they do not feel weak or like a failure."

Explore further: 'Just slip out the back, Jack': We're wired to get over romantic break ups

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Loneliness, Poor Health Appear to be Linked

Jun 18, 2010

( -- Two UA studies have found that hoarding friends doesn't necessarily diminish forlorn feelings and that loneliness is a matter of perception.

Obesity and depression may be linked

Jun 02, 2008

A major review in Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice reveals that research indicates people who are obese may be more likely to become depressed, and people who are depressed may be more likely to become obese.

Depression may nearly double risk of dementia

Jul 05, 2010

A new study shows that having depression may nearly double your risk of developing dementia later in life. The research will be published in the July 6, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academ ...

Measuring Depression

Sep 05, 2007

It's hardly surprising that clinically depressed people act differently than healthy people. Quantifying the difference, however, can be difficult. Now a collaboration of physicists and psychiatrists in Japan has found a ...

Weight loss improves mood in depressed people

Jul 27, 2009

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that after a 6-month behavioral ...

Recommended for you

Study adds evidence on link between PTSD, heart disease

14 hours ago

In a study of more than 8,000 veterans living in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, those with posttraumatic stress disorder had a nearly 50 percent greater risk of developing heart failure over about a seven-year ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.