The link between depression and interpersonal behaviors has long been the subject of theoretical and empirical scrutiny. In Chronic Depression, authors Jeremy Pettit and Thomas Joiner draw upon the extensive body of research on interpersonal processes of depression and develop a new explanatory framework for this persistent mental illness. Their framework operates with the understanding that depression appears to include self-sustaining processes, with these processes being in part interpersonal, and that viewing the processes from an interpersonal standpoint may be useful in applied settings.

In this highly readable volume, the authors survey the interpersonal sources of chronic depression, discussing interpersonal processes (stress generation, negative feedback-seeking, interpersonal conflict avoidance, and blame maintenance, among others) that lead to the maintenance of depression. Clinically-relevant examples and dialogues are interwoven in the text to demonstrate how interpersonal relationships can be impacted by these processes, and how they may be addressed in the context of treatment.

The ideas presented in this book are sure to be valuable to students who are learning about depression, researchers who study the phenomenon, and therapists working to help clients with seemingly intractable cases of depression.

Table of Contents


  1. Depression Chronicity: Perspectives on Forms and Reasons
  2. Depression as a Persistent and Recurrent Scourge
  3. Stress Generation
  4. Negative Feedback-Seeking
  5. Excessive Reassurance-Seeking
  6. Interpersonal Conflict Avoidance
  7. Self-Handicapping
  8. Blame Maintenance
  9. Stable Vulnerabilities
  10. The Complex Interplay of the Factors
  11. Application to a Depression-Related Disorder: Bulimia
  12. Clinical Assessment
  13. Therapeutics
  14. Prevention: The Potential to Save Lives



About the Authors

Author Bios

Jeremy W. Pettit, PhD, is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Houston. He received his PhD in clinical psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Dr. Pettit's primary area of interest centers on etiological and maintaining factors in depression spectrum disorders. Secondary interests include treatment of depression and biopsychosocial approaches to understanding and preventing suicide. He has published over 35 scientific journal articles and edited book chapters on these topics.

Thomas E. Joiner, PhD, went to college at Princeton and received his PhD in clinical psychology in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the Bright-Burton Professor and Director, University Psychology Clinic, in the Department of Psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Dr. Joiner's work is on the psychology, neurobiology, and treatment of depression, suicidal behavior, anxiety, and eating disorders. Author of over 250 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Joiner was recently awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. He was elected fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and received the Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Shakow Award for Early Career Achievement from APA's Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), the Shneidman Award for excellence in suicide research from the American Association of Suicidology, and the Award for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions from the APA, as well as research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and various foundations.