Preparing Yourself To Help Your Loved One
Flight attendants always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone next to you. In the same way, its important to prepare yourself before attempting to assist others when a spouse is depressed. Deep sorrow can be infectious, and its not uncommon for caregivers to develop symptoms of depression themselves. Guard against this possibility by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and staying in the Word.
Also keep an eye on your kids. Children are often vulnerable to a parents anxiety. One study indicates that 20% of 10-year-olds whose mothers suffered from depression were themselves victims within five years.
Dont underestimate the value of caring friends and family at times like this. Let loved ones help you with day-to-day tasks, and allow them to listen to and pray with you. The surest way to intensify your struggle is to isolate yourself and your immediate family from those who love you.
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Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons spring , summer , fall , and winter . In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.
Dont Stop Doing The Things You Love
When your partner cant get out of bed or come to social engagements with you, there can be anger and frustration. Jayne Hardy, founder of the Blurt Foundation, which helps those affected by depression, says the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and unworthiness depressed people may have mean they often place loved ones on a pedestal. She says their skewed perspective means they can struggle to see what they have to offer you.
On more than one occasion, Rob said to me: I feel like Im ruining your life. I stopped doing the things I loved and, because I stayed at home with him, it made him feel guilty that I was missing out.
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Strengthen Your Support Network
If your spouse has depression, they may not be able to support you in the same capacity as they used to. They may want to, but some of the symptoms they live with may make it challenging for them at the moment.
You may find it helpful to find people outside of your relationship, such as close friends and family, who can be there for you if youre facing challenges of your own.
Remember That Depression Isnt Just A Mental Illness
It used to drive me mad that Rob wouldnt get out of bed. It took a while to realise that he couldnt rather than wouldnt. I was so sure he would feel better if he came out for a walk or met his friends, but depression is a physical illness, too. As Dr Cain says: Physically, depression impacts energy levels. People sometimes feel very tired and want to stay in bed all the time.
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How To Reach Out For Depression Support
Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you they just need to be a good listener-someone wholl listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.
Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they dont replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.
Try to keep up with social activities even if you dont feel like it. Often when youre depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.
Find ways to support others. Its nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways-both big and small-to help others: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.
Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed-both powerful antidotes to depression.
Even if youve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
They May Deny The Problem
A depressed spouse may deny that they have any problem at all, Ben-David says.
âMany people with depression or mental health issues donât want to be âfixed.â They may just want to be heard. If in the process of listening to your partner, if you hear things that are too hurtful for you to handle, then turn to a professional for help,â he says. âYour spouse may not identify their behaviors as depression. If theyâre acting out with sex, drinking, drugs, or food, they may say, âI need this. It eases my stress.ââ
Encourage your spouse to get help and a diagnosis from a mental health professional. They can start with talk therapy and, if they need it, prescription medication, Barber says. Make an appointment with a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or family doctor for a diagnosis, and begin therapy.
âPsychotherapy plus medication has shown to work better for depression than just medication. Medication without talking is not going to help,â says Barber, who adds that medication may be more appropriate to treat people with severe depression.
Some couples choose to have therapy together, especially if depression has led to sexual issues in the marriage, such as an affair, Ben-David says. Your depressed partner may prefer to do solo therapy. If theyâre struggling with addiction, they need to treat that before tackling their depression, he says.
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Living With A Depressed Spouse
When you find a married person who is depressed, chances are pretty good youll also find an unhappy marriage. According to a study at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a spouses level of depression is a good indication of marital satisfaction, and the burden of living with someone who has mental health problems takes a toll on both partners.
Accept That There Will Be Bad Days
People with depression have good days and bad days. To deal with the bad days:
- expect that they will happen
- understand that this is a normal part of depression
- do not withdraw love or support during these times
- take some time out and do something enjoyable, either alone or with others
- remember that not every day will be like this there will be good days too
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Tip : Exercise For Greater Mental And Physical Health
When youre depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out. But exercise is a powerful depression fighterand one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once youre well.
To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesnt have to be all at once-and its okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
Create A Supportive Environment At Home
Another important way you can support your spouse through their depression is by creating a supportive home environment. Lifestyle changes can make a huge difference, especially if the person is in treatment. Its important to remember that depression affects a person both mentally and physically, zapping their energy and making it difficult for them to make healthy choices. Some ways you can create a supportive environment include:
- Plan and cook healthy meals together to encourage healthier food choices.
- Exercise together. This can boost their mood and mental health, plus it can keep you both healthy.
- Be involved in your partners treatment as much as you can. This includes driving them to their appointments or sitting in the waiting room.
- Create routines with them to prevent stress.
- Make plans together to do things you both love.
- Give positive reinforcement by pointing out their strengths and areas where youve seen improvement.
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Provide Support During Recovery
While recovery from depression is possible, it can be challenging at times. To support a partner during the recovery process:
- help them keep track of their appointments and medications
- do some physical activity together most days
- plan and prepare healthful meals together
- try to reduce stressors in the home
- make goals small and achievable
- encourage them to socialize with others
- plan fun activities together
- point out the persons progress on their journey to recovery
- avoid forcing treatment on the person
Let them know that they are not alone by saying things such as:
- I am here for you.
- We will deal with this together.
It may also be helpful to attend a support group for family members of those with a mental health condition. Couples may also benefit from couples therapy or family-based counseling.
Understanding Whats Beyond Your Control
Its possible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has depression. Remember that depression is a treatable condition, says Beurkens. It is very possible for couples to weather this and to come out on the other side.
Its important to keep in mind, though, that their recovery and progress arent up to you. You can support them but you may not be able to make decisions for them, such as getting professional help or taking care of themselves.
Letting go of the expectation that you can make them happy again can help you both find practical ways to navigate depression.
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Negative Unrealistic Ways Of Thinking That Fuel Male Depression
All-or-nothing thinking. Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground
Overgeneralization. Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever
The mental filter. Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.
Diminishing the positive. Coming up with reasons why positive events dont count
Jumping to conclusions. Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader or a fortune teller
Emotional reasoning. Believing that the way you feel reflects reality
Shoulds and should-nots.Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldnt do, and beating yourself up if you dont live up to your rules.
Labeling. Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings
Seek Diagnoses And Treatment
If you suspect your spouse may be depressed, the most important action you can take is to help him or her get proper diagnosis and treatment. That can be difficult, though, since one of the factors of depression is hopelessness depressed people tend to believe nothing will help. Thats why its important that you be persistent.
You can begin with listening to your spouse and showing empathy. You can indicate that youve noticed a change in behavior and are concerned for your partners happiness and well-being. You can also say that you wonder if depression may be the cause.
It doesnt matter whether you begin with a counselor or your family doctor. Either one can help in the diagnosis and refer you to the other for additional treatment.
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What Are The Different Types Of Depression
The most common types of depression are:
- Major depressiondepressive symptoms that interfere with a man’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy most aspects of life. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime. But it is common for a person to have several episodes. Special forms of major depression include:
- Psychotic depressionsevere depression associated with delusions or hallucinations . These psychotic symptoms are depression-themed. For example, a man may believe he is sick or poor when he is not, or he may hear voices that are not real that say that he is worthless.
- Seasonal affective disordercharacterized by depression symptoms that appear every year during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight.
- Persistent depressive disorder depressive symptoms that last a long time but are less severe than those of major depression.
- Minor depressionsimilar to major depression and persistent depressive disorder, but symptoms are less severe and may not last as long.
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Just How Is Depression Identified
Depression is usually treated with drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive treatment as well as various other mind stimulation treatments might be alternatives to check out. If you or a liked one have signs of depression, look for assistance from a professional healthcare professional. Screenings for depression are currently usually component of a regular check how to help a husband with depression out to your physician. Yet if your signs obtain a lot worse or do not boost within 4 to 8 weeks of therapy, ask your physician for a referral to a psychiatrist for medical diagnosis and also treatment. Clearly, for much more severe signs and symptoms and constantly if you have thoughts regarding death or hurting yourself or somebody else you ought to see a psychoanalyst immediately.
Tips To Strengthen Your Relationship
Having a spouse with depression may translate into unique challenges for your relationship.
If your spouse is irritable or experiencing bouts of anger, you may find it hard to respond or be supportive in the moment.
Maybe they arent as responsive as they used to be, or they may say things about you or themselves that hurt you.
This could be especially true in situations where your spouse is in denial about their symptoms, says Beurkens. It can also lead to a lot of communication issues, a lot of frustration, resentment, arguing, she adds.
In some scenarios, you may even feel like your spouse doesnt love or care for you. Keeping in mind depression is a mental health condition, could help you in these occasions.
But, how can you deal with ongoing friction?
Beurkens suggests the following:
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Don’t Get Bogged Down In Stigma Or Angry Feelings
Dealing with a partner’s depression can provoke anger and resentment, especially if one spouse is often making excuses for a loved one’s social absences, or if some household responsibilities might need to temporarily shift.
When a spouse acts withdrawn and unaffectionate, a couple’s sex life and level of intimacy will suffer. There is also a sense of shame attached to having a mental health disorder, which can prevent a depressed spouse from seeking help for a treatable illness.
Avoid Entering The Fix
Lets face it: it is easy to fall into the fix-it mode when seeing our spouse suffering or in pain. However, they might think that youre trying to psychologize them, which can lead to another big argument. In addition to this, its not simple for someone whos not a professional to diagnose or cure depression.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that will resolve or fix your partners feelings. In this situation, the best thing you can do is listen to what your partner has to say without judgment. Asking your spouse about what its like to experience depression might be a helpful way to open discussion on dialogue as well.
Ways To Help Your Husband During His Depression
Depression doesnt necessarily have a quick fix. There are varied factors that can trigger a depressive episode , and it can take time to get at the root issues underneath the depression. That doesnt mean your husband will never return to his former way of life. With a commitment to treatment, and a supportive spouse, he can get the self-awareness, tools and coping mechanisms he needs to work through a depressive episode.
Its key that you try to keep your language as neutral as possible when discussing your husbands current mental and emotional state. You can calmly point out what you have been observing, using I language: Ive noticed that you are tossing and turning in the middle of the night more than usual. Its a way to start a dialogue about the changes you have seen in him lately.
You can also suggest he see his doctor to talk about his symptoms. Once any underlying medical issues have been ruled out, your physician may be able to make a referral for a visit with a mental health professional.
If he is willing to discuss his mental health, you can ask how involved hed like you to be in the process. That could mean going with him to the appointment as a show of support or helping him come up with topics to discuss with the mental health professional.