Depression can have a devastating effect on close relationships.
Sometimes depressed people blame themselves for their pain; sometimes they blame their partners. It’s baffling and painful to see them turn into closed, cold or accusing partners.
They may be so different at times that you question do you even know them anymore. Some men and women I help to turn this around will say to me that living with their depressed husband or wife is like a living with a stranger.
After years of affection and intimacy, it can be confusing if they suddenly declare that they don’t feel love any more or even worse if they share they are not sure they ever did. When your memories of events are so different.
Depressed partners can sometimes ignore other things not working in their life and focus the blame for their low mood on the relationship. Where they hope that if they end the relationship, they will find happiness. These beliefs can often cause the depressed person to avoid seeking treatment or talking to someone they trust, as they have associated their unhappiness with being attached to the other person.
The difficulty with this is sometimes it is true, sometimes if men and women have not been expressing their true self, if they have been repressing parts of their personality or if they feel that they are being controlled a relationship can cause symptoms of depression.
So how to do work out what is real and what is not when it comes to depression and a relationship. As hard as it is, as the person in love with a person who is depressed you need to support them to explore this them self. Here are some tips on how to deal with a depressed wife or husband.
HOW TO DEAL WITH A DEPRESSED SPOUSEIf there’s depression in your relationship, it’s time to act—both for your partner and yourself. Waiting increases the chances that your relationship won’t last.
According to statistics in the US, depressed couples are over eight times more likely to divorce, so it’s important if this applies to you to act. From my experience helping thousands of couples now, I believe that the reason the statistic is so high is that negativity kills relationships.
If one person or both in the marriage have a very pessimistic viewpoint and energy it’s going to affect everything. Left unaddressed eventually, it destroys all passion, closeness and communication, which is why if depression has crept into your relationship it is important to act today.
Many fall into the trap of trying to fight their depressed husband or wife and tell them that their feelings are wrong. No one ever wants to hear that their feelings are wrong, no matter what the circumstances and if they are depressed especially. Because a depressed person becomes very attached to their feelings. So fighting will only isolate them further.
Another reason why it is important to act sooner rather than later is that when a non-depressed spouse lives with a depressed partner, they run the risk of getting depression them self.
Depression is something individuals with it and partners try to brush under the carpet, yet it is a killer. Depression has a high risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and can lead to suicide. So well done for taking this time out to pay attention to this.
These steps I walk through with many individuals and couples and I hope they help you.
Don’t fall into the trap of the blame gameDealing with a partner’s depression can provoke frustration and resentment, especially if you find yourself making excuses for a loved one’s social absences, or if some household responsibilities aren’t being done. Be open to new routines, new ways of relating and make sure you also look after your own needs and take care of yourself, so that you are not blaming each other. Better to do a little bit less and not resent, than to be doing everything and feeling angry all the time.
ShowEncourage a depressed spouse to talk about the way he or she is feeling, thinking or acting, and listen without passing judgment.
If someone is in a bad depression, you might hear things that could freak you out. For example, a depressed spouse might question their love for their partner or interest in staying together.
They may say that they feel alone, or like they have nothing to live for and that they regret their decisions in life. Where possible do not get stuck in relationship questions if one or both of you can only see all the negatives.
Listen wholeheartedly and agree to leave the marriage discussion for another time. Saying instead, let’s take it a day at a time or let’s not rush into anything yet. You do not want to overwhelm each other with life-altering decisions, as you cannot see things clearly with the dark cloud of depression looming.
Get a diagnosis togetherDozens of health conditions can trigger the same symptoms as depression. Ask your spouse if it’s okay for you to attend this evaluation.
In most cases, when your partner is down that low, they may not be able to express what’s going on. The illness might prevent a depressed person from recognizing they need help or seeking it out, so it’s often the non-depressed spouse who will express concern and suggest an action plan.
As a UK certified grief and loss recovery specialist, I was amazed at how similar the symptoms of depression are to the symptoms of the natural process of grief and losing something.
A lot of people believe they have depression, when in reality what they are experiencing is grief. Be it from loss of a loved one, loss of a job, financial loss, health loss, loss of trust, loss of faith and even losses of giving up things that are harmful like giving up alcohol, an affair partner, overeating.
Be patient with the treatment process X 2
If they do decide to take the medication route, be patient with the process.
Whilst talking it through can lighten someone’s load quickly, medical intervention and medication for depression can involve testing, this trial and error approach using depression drugs, may make things worse for a period of time.
Patience is important in any relationship and when dealing with a partner who is depressed it is a must. The good news is that depression can be lifted with the right support.
WHAT CAN TRIGGER DEPRESSION?
Depression can happen for a number of reasons.
Transitions – Transitions are hard for anybody and these can include graduations, getting a new job, moving, getting married, having a baby or retirement.
Losses -Losses are a major cause of feeling depressed the death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of friendship, or other major changes bring grief. With losses, it is often easier to identify what is creating the depressed mood.
Conflict in Relationships – Is your loved one having problems with people at work? With friends? With parents or in-laws? With any children, you may have? What about with you? Unresolved relationship problems often trigger a depressive episode.
Depression is a struggle, the depressed partner may feel utterly overwhelmed and incapable of regulating themselves.
They’re often consumed with their struggles and are often apprehensive of any additional demands that are being placed upon them. This is where if they feel relationship pressure they may suggest ending it, rather than dealing with it, as everything to them can seem like a huge weight on their shoulders.
The 2 essential things to remember are one, always show compassion, the depressed partner does not want to feel depressed and two do not neglect yourself. Set healthy boundaries for yourself and make sure you get time to relax and unwind when things get tough.
There is hope and there is help available. If you are considering your support options and would like to connect with me to start a new path today, get in touch with me today.