Mental health and aggression strategies – A prospective study of Norwegian women
MetadataShow full item record
- Institutt for psykologi 
Psychiatric symptoms and aggressive communication between partners tend to coexist. However, the majority of studies on the relation between couples’ aggressive communication and psychiatric disorders are cross-sectional and often report on how one partner’s aggression may affect symptoms of psychiatric disorders in the other partner, so-called partner effects of aggression. The impact of third variables notwithstanding, prospective studies is needed to disentangle potential causes from alleged effects. Moreover, various types of conflict communication, e.g. overt aggression versus passive aggressive communication styles, may have different impact on different mental health problems. I therefore examined whether symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorder and personality disorders as well as symptoms of alcohol abuse affected change in the use of different conflict styles with partner in a large sample of women. Data was collected over a two-year period. The aggression types were measured by the Conflict and Problem-Solving Scale (CPS), symptoms of psychiatric disorders and alcohol use were measured by Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), The Eating disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE), The DSM-IV and ICD-10 Personality Questionnaire (DIP-Q) and The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). The results showed that cluster C personality disorder symptoms predicted an increase in the use of Verbal aggression towards partner. Symptoms of depression and alcohol use were found to predict an increase in Stonewalling, a communication type characterized by angry withdrawal and refusal to engage on others’ initiative. Psychiatric symptoms and alcohol abuse did not affect changes in physical aggression towards one’s partner. Overall, the findings suggest that specific psychiatric symptoms are risk factors for the use of aggressive communication styles when facing partner conflict. Although future research is needed to test such assumption, it is reasonable to assume that addressing partner communication in patients suffering from the above noted psychiatric symptoms may prevent aggressive partner conflicts from escalating.