DEALING WITH DEPRESSION IN YOUR MARRIAGE
Do you or your partner struggle with depression? Is your relationship suffering because of this common disorder? Over 21 million adults experienced a major depressive episode in 2020. Over 20% of adult participants in a national survey reported having experienced Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) at some time in their lives. Compared to patients without mood disorders, patients with depression were 3 times more likely to have difficulty coping with home life. In addition, 80% reported that symptoms of depression interfered with their ability to maintain a home, be socially active, and work. Depression can severely affect your marriage, career, and family life.
What is depression?
Everyone experiences a low mood brought on by a difficult day or emotional challenges such as grief or disappointment. That is not MDD. Because it is a persistent sadness often accompanied by irritability, it can rob the joy out of living and alter the way one views the world. The sufferer sees the world in a negative light. It causes an overreaction to minor stressors and can seriously reduce the ability to function. If depression worsens, it can reach the point of suicidal thoughts. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of depression in yourself, your partner, or both. Some of these include:
- Persistent tiredness and fatigue
- A sense of hopelessness about your life and your future
- Inability to make decisions
- Feelings of emptiness and worthlessness
- No longer enjoying activities that once brought you pleasure
- No interest or motivation to take care of yourself or others
- Withdrawing or cocooning in your home.
- Problems with sleep, eating, and energy
- Difficulty in concentration
How does depression affect your marriage?
Not surprisingly, marital conflict is more probable in couples who are dealing with the depression of one or both of them. The negative outlook and irritability accompanying depression make it difficult to have a fulfilling marriage. Here are some of the effects of depression on a relationship:
- Pervasive Negativity.
Depressed persons are often apathetic, pessimistic, melancholy, and exhausted. They see everything negatively and have little or no energy for the responsibilities or joys of relationships and family life.
- Shirking of Responsibilities. Depression can lead to failure to handle everyday and routine tasks and obligations. This can extend to maintaining your personal interactions. As you under-function, this can cause your spouse to over-function, leading to resentment and even rage in them.
- Diminishing of Intimacy. Emotional connection, closeness, and sexual desire begin to fade. As this continues, feelings of loneliness, disappointment, rejection, and grief may grow. The depressed spouse has no energy to invest emotionally in the relationship, leaving the other spouse feeling disconnected and alone at best.
- Persistent Conflict. Fights can erupt for no reason other than the couple cannot get on the same page. It is often difficult for a spouse to handle or be empathetic to the emotions of their depressed partner. The depressed spouse may then feel unsupported and misunderstood. This emotional quagmire provides the environment for fights and arguments to erupt over the most minor things.
- Declining Sex Life. It is no surprise that a couple’s sex life may decrease rapidly since the depressed person has no or low interest in sex. Their partner may become very dissatisfied with this deficit in their love life, not having their desires fulfilled.
What do if depression is affecting your relationship
- Learn all you can about depression. Becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of depression will help you to feel more empowered to deal with it in your marriage. Discuss the signs of depression that are evident in your life. It would be wise to consult a healthcare professional who can help diagnose your depression.
- Talk about the effects of depression that you are experiencing as a couple. There must be no judgment of one another. This is “our” problem, not just “your problem.” Depersonalize the condition. Give it a name. For instance, name it Harvey and discuss how to deal with Harvey and keep him from damaging your relationship. He then becomes the problem and not either one of you.
- Create a plan of action. Collaborate with your spouse and discuss the changes you can accomplish together. Express what you need from each other. Research or discover methods to assist each other or take care of yourself until you are on the other side of this phase.
- Get help. Seek assistance from wherever you can. Family members can be helpful and supportive, particularly if depression “runs in the family.” This is true if they have successfully dealt with it in their own lives. Friends, your small group from church, or a therapist can be helpful. It’s best to get ahead of the pain and despair rather than allow it to control you.
Recognizing and accepting depression as an issue affecting your marriage is the first step. If your spouse is depressed, this is your moment to help them through a challenging phase in their life. Working through it gently and lovingly may help you become stronger and more connected. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help from others experienced in managing or overcoming depression. Allow others to encourage and support you through this time.
If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please contact me at [email protected] or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, or see our testimonials and information.