The relationship between self-report anger and depression
Suppression of anger has been associated with depression in both theoretical and empirical literature. Increased levels of anger experienced by depressed individuals could explain increased anger suppression found in this population. However, most studies have reported only comparable or lower levels of anger expression among depressed individuals, than found among nondepressed individuals. Studies of the marital interactions of depressed individuals have reported higher levels of anger expression in comparison to their nondepressed counterparts. Heightened levels of interpersonal dependence, common in depressed individuals, could account for greater suppression of anger. Interpersonal dependence, mediated by fear of expressing anger, is proposed to account for the observed relationship between depression and anger suppression. This study tested the hypothesis that the suppression of anger found in depressed individuals is accounted for to a greater extent by interpersonal dependence than by depression itself. Subjects included 33 clinically depressed married clients and 41 married community volunteers. The results indicate that levels of anger suppression correspond more directly to levels of interpersonal dependence than to levels of depression. The relationship of dependence to anger suppression is mediated by consequential fears of anger expression. Slightly different patterns of correspondence were found to exist within the marital dyad as compared to within other relationships. Heightened levels of anger experienced appear to account for the concurrent elevations in anger expressed and anger suppressed found in the marital interaction studies. Theoretical implications and suggestions for future research are included.