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date: 01 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of empirical data supporting the notion of a transactional relationship between depression and rejection, suggesting that rejection is both a cause and consequence of depression. Peer and family rejection in childhood and marital discord in adulthood are all associated with increased risk of developing a depressive disorder. Interpersonal processes involved in depression, such as self-verification striving, excessive reassurance-seeking, blame maintenance, and stress generation cause rejection and are key factors in the maintenance and recurrence of depressive symptoms. Rejection is also associated with increased risk of suicide. In particular, social isolation and family discord are associated with elevated risk of suicide. Many evidence-based psychotherapies for depression and suicidal behaviors target interpersonal functioning. These therapies help clients change their interactions with others to prevent rejection and skillfully manage emotional pain that results when rejection occurs. Thus, although rejection is associated with both depression and suicide, psychotherapy can halt the downward cycle.

Keywords: blame maintenance, depression, excessive reassurance seeking, psychotherapy, rejection, self-verification, stress generation, suicide

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