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J Fam Psychol. 2000 Mar;14(1):71-9.

Living with a depressed spouse.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


The depressed mood and specific burdens experienced by spouses of patients in treatment for depression were examined. Forty-nine wife-depressed couples and 30 husband-depressed couples were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (M. B. First, R. L. Spitzer, M. Gibbon, & J. B. W. Williams, 1995), and spouses completed measures of depressed mood and burden. Overall, spouses living with a depressed patient reported significantly more depressed mood than general population norms and numerous specific burdens. Regression analyses showed that these burdens as well as gender of the spouse accounted for the spouses' depressed mood that would otherwise be attributed to mood contagion. It is suggested that as an alternative to an exclusive therapeutic focus on patient outcomes, attention might profitably be directed to the distress and burden experienced by spouses.

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