Can Interpersonal Problems Predict Female Depression?

Alexandra Fonseca, Margarida Gaspar de Matos, Carlos Gois


Background: Recognized as a common and debilitating condition with a high recurrence rate, depression is considered a severe public health problem. The association between interpersonal problems and depressive disorders is well documented, but studies in non-clinical populations are scarce. The working hypotheses were that (Hp1) depressed women report more interpersonal problems than non-depressed ones, and (Hp2) depression is predicted by interpersonal problems.

Methods: The present study analyzes the relationship between depression and interpersonal problems, assessed by the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP64), in a non-clinical Portuguese female population (n=240), aged 18 to 81. Two groups of participants were considered, based on the Beck Depression Inventory – short form (BDI-SF) cut-off points: G1 "non-depressed" (n=119, M=44.18, SD=12.34) and G2 “depressed” (n=121, M=41.14, DS=13.74). One-way ANOVA and binary logistic regression with forward selection were performed.

Results: There was a significant difference in interpersonal problems between depressed and non-depressed women. Specifically, when women experienced depressive symptoms, they identified more interpersonal problems. The sub-scales IIP1 dominating/controlling, IIP7 Self-sacrifice and IIP4 Socially inhibited had the most significant impact on the likelihood of depression.

Conclusions: This study emphasizes that clinical practice and universal and selective prevention strategies for depression should include analyses and interventions on factors such as inhibition, reduction of the social network, difficulty in emotional expression and low gratification experienced in interpersonal relationships.


Depression; Interpersonal Problems; IIP64; Women; Mental Health.

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