Job loss and depressive symptoms in couples: common stressors, stress transmission, or relationship disruption?

J Fam Psychol. 2004 Dec;18(4):639-50. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.18.4.639.


Three models of the linkage between stressors and depressive symptoms were tested in 252 couples after job loss. Data were analyzed to test whether depressive symptoms in both members of the couple were due to common stressors, the transmission of stress from 1 member to the other, or changes in relationship quality. Evidence was found for all 3 processes. Common stressors influenced depressive symptoms in both partners. Anger and depressive symptoms of each partner partially mediated these effects on the other partner, as did reductions in relationship quality. Findings suggest that interventions to help couples cope with the aftermath of job loss may hold promise for preventing depressive reactions to stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anger
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment / psychology*
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*