Emotionally needy people risk recurring depression

November 1st, 2008 - 9:09 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Nov 1 (IANS) Emotionally needy individuals are at greater risk of recurring depression, says a new Canadian study.Myriam Mongrain, who is associate professor of psychology in York University here, studied graduate students with a history of depression, rating their levels of emotional dependence.

She again interviewed the participants 20 months later to check recurrence of a major depression.

Her findings in the study “Healthy and unhealthy dependence: Implications for major depression,” show that emotionally needy individuals have much greater risk of relapse than their “love-dependent” counterparts.

In psychology jargon, “love dependence” refers to a type of interpersonal relationship in which one’s needs are not sacrificed and self-definition is not compromised.

“Our findings suggest that the more mature form of interpersonal dependence may actually confer protective advantages and possibly some resilience against depressive recurrences,” said Mongrain.

She said her findings support a three-factor model of emotional dependence, which separates the trait into unhealthy, intermediate, and healthy types.

“The unique contribution of this study is in the delineation of healthy and unhealthy aspects of emotional dependence,” said Mongrain.

“We tend to think of dependency as a negative term, but some forms are quite adaptive, as long as the individual can retain a healthy level of assertiveness,” she said.

Mongrain said the three levels of emotional dependence were derived from measuring the following traits: neediness; submissiveness; pleasing others; caring about what others think; exploitability; connectedness, and love.

Men and women did not differ significantly on any of the measures, she said.

Mongrain said women typically scored higher on measures of emotional dependence.

However, her sample consisted of individuals with a history of major depression, and as such, may have been different from the overall population, she said.

Her study found age to be a factor, with older participants reporting being less needy and not caring what others thought of them. But the average age of her study participants was 29.

The study has been in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.

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