Romantic relationship separation: A fresh design to study ramifications of stress on despair (-like) episodes

Romantic relationship separation: A fresh design to study ramifications of stress on despair (-like) episodes

The occurrence of a stressful event is considered to increase the risk of developing depression. In the present study we explore whether the breakup of a romantic relationship can be used as an experimental model to study a depression-like state during a period of stress in individuals without a psychiatric disorder. The primary aim of our study was to investigate: 1) whether individuals with a recent romantic relationship breakup (‘‘heartbreak”) demonstrate symptoms of depression, 2) how to describe heartbreak characteristics based on data from a comprehensive questionnaire battery, and 3) whether this description can capture severity of depression symptoms. Secondary, we were interested in gender differences with regard to the above study objectives. Subjects who have experienced a relationship breakup in the preceding six months (N = 71) or are in a romantic relationship (N = 46) participated in our study.