This paper explores the impact of depression on adult couple relationships and proposes that a couple’s relationship, itself, might, sometimes, be considered “depressed.” Couple relationships are most vulnerable to break down during pregnancy and their children’s infancy. At this time the couple must manage several demanding developmental tasks, both as individuals and as a couple. The phenomenon of postnatal/ perinatal depression in new parents is well recognized. The concept of couples being “perinatally depressed” offers other ways of understanding the complexity of couples’ developmental tasks. The long-term trans-generational consequences of emotional learning by both parents and children at this time crucially influence the making of future couple relationships. These issues are explored with reference to psychotherapy with two couples experiencing depression perinatally.
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Molly Ludlam, MA having recently retired from clinical practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with couples, individuals, and parents, she now focuses on teaching, consulting, writing and editing. She is the Founding Editor of the International Journal of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis. Other publications include Couple Attachments: Theoretical and Clinical Studies (2007), co-edited with V.Nyberg; and most recently “Failure in Couple Relationships and in Couple Psychotherapy” (2014) in: B. Willock, R. Coleman, Curtis & L. Bohm, (Eds), Understanding and Coping with Failure: Psychoanalytic Perspectives; “Sitting with Marital Tensions: the work of Henry Dicks in applying Fairbairn’s ideas to couple relationships, “(2014), in: D. Scharff & G. Clarke (Eds) Fairbairn and the Object Relations Tradition; and “The Perinatally Depressed Couple and the Imperative of Mourning” (2014) in: K.Cullen, E. Bondi, J. Fewell, E. Francis, & M. Ludham (Eds). Making Spaces: Putting Psychoanalytic Thinking to Work. She was recently appointed to serve as External Examiner at Tavistock Relationships, UK, from 2016-2019.
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