Analyzing data from nearly 5000 participants, with a follow up at 10 years, researchers have scientifically established what most people know intuitively. If your relationships are bad, your mood is likely to follow.
"Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression," says psychiatrist Alan Teo, MD, of the University of Michigan. "This is the first time that a study has identified this link in the general population."
Relationship strain, feelings of isolation in relationships, a lack of support and other issues among spouses, families and friends contribute to depression. It isn't the quantity of relationships that is important, according to the research, but the quality.
Make no mistake about it; the quality of your relationships is a determining factor in your physical and mental health
"The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease," Teo says. "What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression."
Yet, when you go to the doctor, how often are you asked about your relationships? The health of your relationships may be the most critical factor in your overall health, for that matter. Yet, most doctors never think to inquire. In fact, most doctors have horrible relationships skills.
What you can do to improve the quality of your relationships and increase your mood
Here are some ideas:
Forget your mood and focus on your relationships.
Which are the most important relationships in your life? What is wonderful about them? What is missing? What steps can you take to improve them, beyond passively wishing that other people will magically change?
Do you know how to take another person's perspective? Do you understand how to look at a relationship from a neutral perspective? Do you know your preferred way to receive love? Do you know your partner's? Do you know how to mediate a conflict when you are in the midst of one?
Most people do not have great intuition about these things. Most often, we assume other people should give love in the precise manner that we like to receive it. Most people assume that they should defend themselves with solid information when attacked. Most people assume the words they say are the most important aspects of the relationship. These assumptions are all dead wrong, even damaging to relationships.
Get some relationship skills! My professional bias is toward NLP or neuro-linguistic skills, but any conscious study is usually beneficial.
Beware of self-sabotage in relationships
The number one destroyer of relationships, in my experience working with people, is self-sabotage.
Beyond pure relating skills, self-sabotage is the number one issue in relationships. Most sabotage is done unconsciously, which is why it is imperative to expand your awareness? Do you unwittingly sabotage your relationships? Here are just a few signs that you do:
1. You don't express your needs 2. You take on more than your fair share of the burden 3. You resist accountability to your partner 4. You act like a child that needs supervision 5. You annoy your partner and encourage rejection
There are hundreds of signs that you are sabotaging your relationship, most of them leading to feelings of being controlled, deprived or rejected.
For your relationship to last - or more importantly - to be peaceful and happy, you must address the unconscious patterns of self-sabotage. To learn more about self-sabotage, watch this free, 20-minute video.
It is now firmly established that the health of your relationship is tied directly to your mental health. Guard it with care.
About the author: Watch the free video The AHA! Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.
The information in this video has been called the missing link in mental health and personal development. In a world full of shallow, quick-fix techniques, second rate psychology and pharmaceutical takeovers, real solutions have become nearly impossible to find. Click here to watch the presentation that will turn your world upside down.