The Role of Relationship Status in Major Depressive Disorder - Results of the European Group for the Study of Resistant Depression

Lucie Bartova, Markus Dold, Gernot Fugger, Alexander Kautzky, Marleen Margret Mignon Mitschek, Ana Weidenauer, Patricia Anna Handschuh, Richard Frey, Laura Mandelli, Joseph Zohar, Julien Mendlewicz, Daniel Souery, Stuart Montgomery, Chiara Fabbri, Alessandro Serretti, Siegfried Kasper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: While the association between relationship status and the development of depressive symptoms in the general population were reported previously, its relation to the severity and the course of major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as the treatment patterns and response rates needs to be elucidated. Methods: The present international multicenter cross-sectional study performed by the European Group for the Study of Resistant Depression (GSRD) investigated socio-demographic and clinical patterns of relationship status in a real-world sample of 1410 adult in- and outpatients with MDD as primary diagnosis. Results: While 49.9% of all MDD patients were partnered, 25.4% were separated, and 24.8% were single. Single relationship status was linked to younger mean age, earlier mean age of onset, and current suicidal risk. Being separated was related to older mean age, unemployment, greater symptom severity, current suicidal risk, and add-on treatment strategies. Partnered relationship status was associated with less frequent current suicidal risk. Limitations: The retrospective assessment of treatment response that was exclusively based on psychopharmacotherapeutic strategies should be critically considered and weighed while interpreting the present results providing novel insights into the complex interaction of relationship status with the clinical phenotype of MDD. Conclusions: Although MDD patients living in relationships do not seem to be omitted from the evolution of MDD, they may be spared from chronicity and suicidality. Hence, being aware of the current relationship status might support clinicians in the diagnostic and therapeutic process towards optimized management of such challenging clinical phenomena and their negative consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Major depressive disorder
  • Marital status
  • Partnership
  • Relationship
  • Treatment response


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