Get access

Affective Disorders


  • Steven R. H. Beach, PhD, University of Georgia; Mark A. Whisman, PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder.

Address correspondence to Steven R. H. Beach, Director, Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, 510 Boyd GSRC, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-7419; E-mail:


Depression is a heterogeneous disorder with lifetime prevalence of “major depressive disorder” estimated to be 16.2%. Although the disorder is common and impairs functioning, it often goes untreated, with less than adequate response even when treated. We review research indicating the likely value of utilizing currently available, well-validated, couple- and family-based treatments with depressed individuals, and we provide empirically based treatment decision rules to guide effective application of marital and family interventions for depression in clinical practice. We suggest that traditional forms of couple-based intervention may be most appropriate for discordant, depressed couples, whereas nondiscordant, or mildly distressed, depressed couples may respond well to forms of intervention that have become available more recently and which focus on strengthening the dyad as a source of support. We also discuss parent training as an intervention for depression and describe briefly the directions for future research to enhance couple-based treatment for depression.