Last week I attended a seminar on interpersonal therapy. I'm not going to get into detail about the treatment, but I think the theory underlying the therapy is interesting. The basic premise of the this treatment model is that an episode of depression is always triggered by some kind of interpersonal difficulty. I think this is interesting because it speaks to the importance of our relationships with other people to our happiness. I'd venture to say that we as humans cannot be happy without at least one - usually more - significant interpersonal relationship in our lives. Think about it -- when asked what we value most in life the majority of us will put family or friends somewhere at the top of our list.
Unfortunately, when life gets tough our interpersonal relationships are often the first things we neglect. For example, my job is getting stressful -- when I come home I'm irritable and want to be left alone. My interpersonal relationships suffer. I feel worse. Here's another example. I have increased responsibilities at home - a new baby perhaps, or a family member becomes ill and needs my help. I have very little free time and I don't make it a priority to spend time with loved ones. I become isolated and feel unsupported.
I think it's important to remember that our relationships need to be a priority no matter what is going on in our lives. Our relationships are what give our lives meaning. They enrich our lives and are a primary source of positive emotions. When we neglect our interpersonal relationships we deprive ourselves of the love and support that are vital to helping us successfully navigate through difficult times in our lives.