Book Review: When Depression Hurts Your Relationship

Book Review

Relationships are complicated even without the presence of a mood disorder, which is probably why you don’t see that many books on depression and romantic relationships even though you’ll find dozens of workbooks about depression.  Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD, bravely explores the subject in her 2014 book, When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How to Regain Intimacy and Reconnect with Your Partner When You’re Depressed Craig Malkin, PhD, wrote the book’s foreword.  Note:  I have never met the author and I have no ties to anyone involved in the publication of this book. I found Kolakowski’s book to be eye-opening, practical, and engaging.

Who is the book’s audience? 

According to the book, “This book is for the person who is depressed or is having symptoms of depression.  Almost all of the exercises may be done with your partner, especially those targeting communication skills.  If your partner is unable–or unwilling–to participate in the exercises, that’s okay.  Positive transformation in relationships often comes from one partner making changes first.”  That being said, I liked this book so much that I recently recommended it to a friend who is having a hard time understanding his depressed spouse.

IPT: Interpersonal Therapy

To quote Kolakowski, “The central premise of this book stems from the interpersonal therapy (IPT).  IPT is based on the notion that depression is often closely tied to social and interpersonal events.  We know that genetics and personality, combined with disruptive social events such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a relationship, often contribute to mood disorders (Weissman, Markowitz, and Klerman, 2000).  IPT is an evidence-based treatment for depression that helps you better cope with life situations that are linked to your current suffering (Markowitz and Wiessman 2004).  The main idea behind IPT is that depression is entwined with your relationships…IPT takes into account your personality and ways you relate to your partner that may be continuing or worsening the cycle of depression…but it is really focused on the  here-and-now of your life…”

Engaging and Easy to Understand

Apart from the introduction, which isn’t that long, there are only seven chapters in the book.  When Depression Hurts Your Relationship is a fast read.  The author gets her message across using colorful stories and interesting exercises. At 188 pages in paperback, the book is just the right length.  Kolakowski outlines benefits to the reader at the beginning of the book when she writes, “The Tools in this book cover the following areas:

  • Your personality and style of relating to others
  • Your symptoms that stem from depression
  • Your conflict patterns with your partner
  • How painful emotions affect your relationships
  • Major changes, loss, transitions, and stressors in your life
  • Clarifying your wishes and goals for a satisfying relationship
  • Identifying and reinforcing your strengths and assets”

To conclude, I highly recommend Shannon Kolakowski’s When Depression Hurts Your Relationship if you are someone who has depression or if you love someone who does. New Harbinger Publications is the publisher of Kolakowski’s book, which you can find here on Amazon.  The paperback costs $13.19; Kindle version costs $9.99.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

Full disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.


Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

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