Jonathan Rottenberg and Ian H Gotlib

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a psychiatric syndrome characterized by impaired functioning in multiple domains, including biology, behavior, emotion, and cognition. Investigators working within each of these domains face an ever-expanding corpus of theory, methodology, and empirical findings. Perhaps in part due to these burgeoning literatures, different groups of researchers have typically focused on only one of these domains of functioning. While understandable, the consequence of this situation is that there is a lack of integrative theory and research in which the range of dysfunctions that are associated with depression are synthesized to form a meaningful overall pattern (Gotlib & Hammen, 1992, 2002).

For several reasons, the social and emotional dysfunctions observed in depression appear to be particularly good candidates with which to begin to develop such an integrative approach. It is clear, for example, that depressed individuals exhibit striking deficits in both of these domains. And perhaps more important, the social and emotional deficits in MDD appear to be interwoven. It is not difficult to imagine, for instance, that a depressed woman's inability to experience pleasure (emotion deficit) might lead her to withdraw from pleasant activities involving others (social deficit). Indeed, a growing body of research conducted with "normal" samples reinforces the formulation that there are strong bidirectional linkages between the social and the emotional domains (e.g., Fridja, 1986; Fridlund, 1992). Emotions are critical in coordinating the trajectory of social interactions (Ekman, 1992). In turn, social interactions set the conditions under which the majority of all emotional episodes occur (Scherer et al., 1986). These insights concerning the linkage of social and emotional phenomena have only recently been applied to the understanding of psychopathology (e.g., Keltner & Kring, 1998). We believe that this is an opportune time, therefore, for researchers and theorists in the field of depression to consider the interconnections between the social dysfunctions (e.g., Barnett & Gotlib, 1988) and the emotional dysfunctions (e.g., Rottenberg et al., 2002) that are typically observed in individuals who are experiencing this debilitating disorder.

Mood Disorders: A Handbook of Science and Practice. Edited by M. Power. © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN 0-470-84390-X.

Certainly, the formulation of a socioemotional linkage in MDD is not entirely novel. Several well-validated interventions for depression, such as interpersonal therapy (IPT) (Klerman et al., 1984), social skills training (Becker et al., 1987), and marital and family therapy (Beach & Jones, 2002), make strong assumptions about the existence of tight connections between the state of depressed persons' interpersonal functioning and their emotional state. In fact, a central claim of these interventions is that improving depressed patients' social functioning will alleviate their depressive symptoms (including the emotional symptoms). Despite the demonstrated efficacy of these therapies, the mechanisms through which socially based therapies effect changes in emotional functioning remain largely unknown.

The purpose of this chapter is to present an overview and integration of the literatures on social and emotional functioning in depression. Using the general concept of socioemotional linkage as a framework, we begin this chapter by discussing normative aspects of the relation between social and emotional functioning. Our overarching goal in using the concept of socioemotional linkage is to go beyond a simple "snapshot" description of how depressed individuals function in social settings and offer a more dynamic explanation of why depressed persons engage in dysfunctional social behaviors. In this context, examining the emotional functioning of depressed individuals can provide important insights concerning their social behaviors. After reviewing the literatures concerning the social and emotional functioning of depressed persons, we attempt to integrate these literatures by considering the contributions both of broad motivational systems and of specific emotion deficits to the problematic social functioning of depressed individuals. We conclude this chapter with recommendations for future research designed to examine the roles of social and emotional functioning, over time and across clinical state, as possible risk factors for MDD.

Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

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