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Understanding the social interaction difficulties of women with unipolar depression

Rice, Niamh and Grealy, Madeleine and Javaid, Aisha and Millan Serrano, Rosa (2011) Understanding the social interaction difficulties of women with unipolar depression. Qualitative Health Research, 21 (10). pp. 1388-1399. ISSN 1049-7323

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Abstract

Poor social functioning is a prevalent complaint of unipolar depression, but subjective experiences of social interactions have not been systematically studied. A limited number of qualitative researchers have specifically addressed the social difficulties in depression. We conducted in-depth semistructured interviews with 11 depressed women. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the transcripts. Five themes emerged. The first two, diminished desire to socially interact and fear of social interactions, encompass perceptions that have not been previously reported. The third theme, the pressure to adhere to social norms, provided support for previous findings. The final two themes, the perceptions of others and isolation, elaborated on existing knowledge. We found that difficulties with social engagements are much broader than previously reported, with a lack of interest in others, being too emotionally overloaded to interact, perceptions that other people will not understand how women with depression are feeling, and fears of being a burden all contributing to the difficulties experienced in depression.