Many patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) are married or in marriage-like relationships that could influence treatment process and outcomes. We clarified relations of patient-reported criticism from partners (perceived criticism) and criticism of partners with psychosocial functioning and changes in cognitive therapy (CT) for depression. Partnered outpatients (N = 219) received a 12-week CT protocol and completed measures repeatedly. As hypothesized, perceived criticism and criticism of partners correlated with personality (e.g., perceived criticism: trait mistrust, self-harm; criticism of partners: negative temperament, aggression), social-interpersonal problems (perceived criticism: cold and overly nurturant behavior; criticism of partners: vindictive and domineering behavior; both measures: poor adjustment in partnered and family relationships), cognitive content (both measures: negative failure attributions, dysfunctional attitudes), and depressive symptom intensity (both measures), although effect sizes were small-moderate. Both criticism measures decreased little during CT and remained elevated compared to community norms, despite the fact that relations between the criticism measures and depressive symptoms included both stable trait and more transient state components. From these findings, we speculate that some patients with MDD elicit or amplify criticism in ways that harm their relationships and psychosocial functioning and may benefit from additional or strategic treatment.
- Cognitive therapy
- Criticism of spouse or partner
- Perceived criticism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health