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 the author’s website or here on Amazon.  The paperback costs $14.16; Kindle version costs $9.99.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno



Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), endometriosis, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *