Couple therapy for depression

Depression is a common mental disorder characterised by sadness, loss of pleasure in most activities, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, thoughts of death or suicide.

Couple therapy works by modifying negative interactional patterns and increasing mutually supportive aspects of relationships. Couple therapy is included in several guidelines among the suggested treatments for depression. This new review aimed to assess evidence about the effects of couple therapy for couples with a depressed partner.

What does the evidence from the review tell us?

Although there is suggestion that couple therapy is as effective as individual psychotherapy in improving depressive symptoms and more effective in improving relations in distressed couples, the low or very low quality of the evidence seriously limits the possibility of drawing firm conclusions. 

What should happen next?

We need good quality trials, testing in large samples with long follow-up of the effects of couple therapy in comparison to other interventions, especially in distressed couples.

Read the review in the Cochrane Library