Saturday, April 13, 2024

How To Deal With A Depressed Spouse

Dont Take It Personally

Dealing with a Spouse’s Depression

There is the person you fell in love with, who makes you laugh until it hurts and then there are the bad days, when you are dealing with a stranger who wont let you in. Depression can magnify or alter emotions, says Dr Kousoulis. A person can have emotional highs and lows in equal degrees, so it is important not to take changes personally.

This can be easier said than done. I found my own coping mechanisms therapy, exercise and lowering my expectations of what I needed and wanted from Rob when he was feeling bad. I knew that somewhere inside this person was my husband, so from time to time, Id leave him postcards telling him how much I loved him. He didnt react in an effusive way but I know it got through because he kept every one in a memory box.

Above all, hold on to your love. You wont always feel as though you are making any progress, says Hardy. You, too, may feel helpless at times. But your patience, kindness and understanding make such a difference.

Chase The Rainbow, Poorna Bells memoir about life with her husband, is published by Simon & Schuster.

The Samaritans helpline is 116 123.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.

Depressed Spouse: What Causes Depression And How To Deal With It

Kaira was feeling dejected, weak and disinterested in everything. Her husband, Steve, observed this for a week and decided to talk to her. Nothing much came out of the conversation but Steve had realized that Kaira is depressed for some reason, and needed help his help.

Its painful to see a depressed spouse struggle with their problem. You want to do everything possible to bring them out of depression. But what can you do? How can you support them?

MomJunction helps you in identifying the signs of depression and being of help to your spouse.

How Does Depression Affect Your Marriage

When your spouse is depressed, your marriage automatically suffers. Heres how it impacts your marriage:

  • You may have to take responsibility for all the household chores.
  • Taking care of a depressed spouse can take a toll on your health.
  • You are reluctant to tell anyone about your depressed partner.
  • It increases the chances of you going into a depression.
  • As the depression continues, your spouse might resort to alcoholism, violence, abuse, and even suicide.
  • It diminishes emotional and sexual intimacy between you.
  • Depressed couples have higher chances of divorce.
  • Other components of the relationship and partnership can become neglected due to the various shifting needs of the depression

The relationship can become isolating, bitter, loaded with negativity, guilt, and anger. You might want to escape from the situation while your spouse might feel you are doing nothing to help them.

Though it can seem impossible to navigate a relationship with a depressed spouse, it is possible.

Read Also: How To Get Out Of A Depressed Mood

What To Do When Your Spouse Refuses To Get Help

Many a depressed person doesnt want help or is scared that counselling might make matters worse!

So, heres how you can motivate and encourage your spouse to access professional help:

  • Find free help-forums, but be sure first to read my article on 6 useful sources of depression help online.
  • Ensure theres someone to mind your children, if necessary.
  • Above all, reassure them getting professional help for depression is a sign of strength. After all, youd be looking for an expert with all sorts of practical or physical problems, so why not for emotional/mental issues!

If and when your spouse or partner agrees to access help, be sure to happily go along with whatever type of treatment theyve chosen regardless of your views!

What To Do If A Spouse Is Depressed

How to help your partner to deal with depression

If theres depression in your marriage, its time to actfor your partner and yourself, Walfish says. Waiting increases the chances that your relationship wont last couples where one or both partners are depressed are significantly more likely to divorce than couples who arent depressed, according to a study published in BMC Public Health. And trying to fight or make peace with this often misunderstood illness on your own raises risks for both of you. The longer a non-depressed spouse lives with a depressed partner, the higher his or her own risks for depression, the researchers found. The deeper a depressed spouse sinks, the tougher it may be to finally treat the depressionand the greater the risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide, according to the Department of Health and Human Services . The stakes are high, but the odds are that things will improve.

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Know The Warning Signs Of Suicide

The risk of suicide is always elevated during major depressive disorder. Its important to know the red flags and get immediate medical assistance:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Getting a means to attempt suicide, such as purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Extreme mood swings very high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Social withdrawal
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of death
  • Noticeable changes in normal daily routines
  • Feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, including drug or alcohol abuse or reckless driving
  • Giving away belongings

How To Leave A Good But Depressed Husband Of 27 Years

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  • Living with a depressed husband over an extended period of time can take a toll on you, the non-depressed spouse. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that results from imbalances in brain chemistry and can affect mood, sleep, appetite and energy. If your husband has been living with this condition for a long time, he has probably withdrawn from the marriage in many ways — leaving you feeling alone and with most of the responsibilities of the household.

    Recommended Reading: Natural Remedies Depression And Memory Loss

    How To Deal With A Depressed Spouse To Save Marriage

    Take these measures to save your marriage when your spouse is depressed:

    • Accept that there is a problem. A denial will only aggravate the problem and ruin your marriage as well as your lives.
    • Dont let depression invade your marriage.
    • Tackle it as a team: Treat depression as an intruder into your marriage. Help your spouse in getting better.
    • Fix depression before fixing your marriage. Depression ruins your marriage. You might want to fix the trivial things first, for example, ask your spouse to communicate better, be responsible, and help you.
    • This will only frustrate the depressed person. Hence, you need to continue addressing their depression before expecting them to contribute to the relationship.
    • Too much hiding or concealing of an issue can also contribute to a scarier environment for children. Talk to your partner and counselor about this: what can we communicate to the kids? (Mommy or Daddy arent feeling well, theyre getting help, its a bit harder but were dealing with it, can all be more grounding ways to address whats going on in the house than hiding it.
    • Identify a good counselor: The entire family is affected due to depression. Therefore, go for couples counseling sessions and some individual sessions too.

    While trying to insulate your marriage from your spouses depression, you also need to help your partner get out of the illness.

    Admit That You Cannot Cure Your Partners Depression

    How To Handle Your Depressed Spouse

    Your spouse needs your love, support, and concern, but these important qualities cant reverse depression any more than they can control blood sugar, ease arthritis pain, or clear out clogged arteries. Just as you wouldnt rely on love alone to cure a medical conditionor withdraw love because it didntdont expect that your feelings or attention will be able to alter your spouses off-kilter brain chemistry. Use your love to get help and to remind your partner of his or her intrinsic worth during this challenging time, Walfish advises.

    Also Check: Is Constant Crying A Sign Of Depression

    Stay Positive And Get Active

    What if your spouse refuses to go to therapy? You may feel hopeless, but try to stay positive, because depression often is treatable, Barber says. Although your spouse may need to stick with therapy and/or medication for a few months, up to 90% of people with depression do improve with treatment.

    âWhatâs important is to give them affection. You may feel rejected. But itâs situational, and their behavior is just part of the depression,â he says. âBe encouraging. Invite them to do more activities together that are fun. Do something active like exercise. Depression often causes lethargy. Invite your spouse to go for a walk or to the beach if you have one nearby.â

    Whether your spouse agrees to go to therapy or not, there are a few things you should not do in response to their anger or denial, Ben-David says.

    âAvoid blaming or attacking them for their behaviors. Donât keep saying, âYou did this, and it made me feel bad.â Bargaining with them is also generally not helpful. Taking an all or nothing approach doesnât work,â he says. âInstead, suggest healthy activities that you can do together or with friends that you trust. Go to an outdoor concert or listen to music that you both enjoy. One behavior that I sometimes prescribe for couples is to read to each other. This has a nurturing quality and can help with bonding.â

    Be Patient With The Treatment Process

    If your depressed spouse decided to take the medication route, be patient with the process.

    Whilst talking it through can lighten someones load quickly, medical intervention and medication for depression can involve testing. This trial-and-error approach of 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.

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    Potential Causes Of Your Spouses Depression

  • Medication beta-blockers, steroids, the contraceptive pill, hormone replacement therapy, epilepsy drugs, allergy meds, anti-anxiety medication, anti-cancer drugs and more. So, its well worth checking!
  • Relationship problems the two of you are growing apart, or theres a lack of trust. Trust is linked with our essential emotional need for a sense of security. Depression most often results from a disbalance in our emotional needs.
  • Feeling/being bored in your relationship or justbored within themselves
  • Severe or chronic health problems
  • Burnout due to the pressures of work or caring for sick and/or elderly loved ones.
  • Anxiety depression often goes hand-in-hand with depression. One might cause the other and vice-versa
  • Grief they havent got over the loss of a loved one or something else significant in their lives, while you think they should have got over that by now.
  • With regards to the latter, be sure not to jump to conclusions. Grieving for the loss of a significant other or factor in-/part of your life is healthy and may take months or even years.

    Often theres a combination of factors at play.

    Almost always does depression occur due to a disbalance in essential emotional needs, including unmet inborn needs. So, youre going to have to be a Sherlock to figure it out.

    I suspect youve already let it be known that youre worried. Depending on the state of your relationship, you may or may not have got anywhere.

    There May Also Be Drastic Changes In The Way They Eat And Their Weight

    How To Deal With A Partner Who Has Been Through Depression ...

    Depressed people generally develop unhealthy eating patterns that also affect their weight. They can eat a lot, too little, or not at all. This would in turn make their weight fluctuate from weight loss to weight gain and anything else in between.

    If your spouses eating patterns have changed significantly and it is not for the better, you should not take it for granted.

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    Maintain Your Duties When Depressed

    Before reaching a crisis point, Wade recommends reaching an agreement about goalsâdown to the specifics of when to get out of bed or how much television to watch. Then put that written daily routine someplace readily visible so you can both remain accountable. Sure, keeping the house clean is nice, but the main goal of this is for the note to serve as a âwritten reminder to keep living.â

    Check Out Couples Counseling

    Once youve done your personal research and you still need help, we highly recommend that you check out couples counselling. This is a great solution for couples who fight too often to get on the same page.

    In addition to your partners counselling, joining them in couples therapy is the number one way to show that you support their mental health. Not only does this promote proper communication, but it will also help you communicate tough issues better as well.

    Recommended Reading: Free Online Help For Depression

    Dealing With A Depressed Spouse

    Dealing with depression can be difficult for any couple. If your spouse has been diagnosed with depression, it is important to take action to help your marriage. Just like if your spouse were diagnosed with a physical health problem, it is important to educate yourself if your spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness. Learning about depression can help you to have more empathy for your spouse and can teach you strategies to help cope with depression as a couple.

    If your spouse has received a diagnosis of depression, support their efforts to seek treatment. Therapy and medication are often the best combination to treat depression. Offer to attend therapy sessions, doctor appointments, or anything else that helps your partner receive treatment. If your partner refuses treatment, consider therapy for yourself. Therapy can help you to learn about depression and strategies you can use to support your partner.

    Depression leads to decreased energy and lack of motivation. This most likely means your spouse is going to struggle to complete a lot of their daily activities, such as household responsibilities. Avoid nagging your partner. Nagging your partner is likely to make the situation worse and wont motivate your spouse. Instead, talk openly about your feelings and concerns. Expect that you may have to do some more things around the house if your partner isnt able to.

    Take Care Of Yourself

    How to Help a Spouse With Depression

    If your partner refuses to seek help, you should treat the illness the same way you would an alcohol or drug problem and step up the intervention. You may need to go so far as to threaten to move out if your partner doesnt get help. Thats especially appropriate if you have children, since research has shown that one of the most significant factors in raising mentally healthy children is to have mentally healthy parents. Often, that understanding alone can compel a spouse to get help.

    Another important step along the way is to take care of yourself. Be sure to get enough sleep, exercise and eat healthfully. If you detect you may be suffering some symptoms of depression yourself, follow the same advice you would offer your spouse: seek help from your family physician or a counselor.

    You may also benefit from reading some good self-help books. Feeling Good by David Burns is particularly helpful. It focuses on changing thought processes and patterns that accompany depression, such as avoiding all-or-nothing thinking, perfectionism, taking things too personally, dwelling on negative things from the past and overgeneralizing.

    Prognosis for depressed spouse is promising

    The prognosis for depression is good, once its diagnosed. Though it can take three to six months to achieve significant improvement, 80 to 90 percent of cases can be effectively treated, usually with a combination of medication and counseling.

    Read Also: Clinical Depression And Anxiety Disorder

    How To Help Your Spouse With Depression Your Action Plan

  • Read my article on how to stop constant arguing for the best tips on how to have a challenging conversation.
  • Read my article How to be an emotionally supportive spouse.
  • Go for a walk together if you can walking and talking is for many men easier or create a pleasant, undisturbed ambience at home for a quiet conversation.
  • Be clear about how you feel without blaming them and turn any complaints or worries into a wish. State what youre noticing , be open about how youre feeling and ask for cooperation.
  • Think About Your Needs Too

    In the middle of dealing with your partners depression, dont forget to think about your own needs too. Remember to keep up with your friends or personal interests outside the relationship. Dont neglect your self-care either.

    Pro tip: taking care of yourself isnt selfish, its necessary. Otherwise, youre going to take out your bad mood on your partner, and both of you will suffer.

    Also Check: Medication To Help With Depression

    When A Depressed Spouse Refuses Help

    Having a depressed spouse and parent in the family creates a difficult problem. The parents are supposed to be the leaders, the example setters, the encouragers both to each other and to their children. When one of the adults has big mental health problems, this changes the balance and affects everyone.

    Heres how the dynamic can go:

    You spouse has found themselves in a deep hole from circumstances beyond their control. This could be health problems, job issues, financial responsibilities that have gone badly, fallouts with friends of family, etc. These circumstances leave them depressed and not functioning well.

    You see they are in the hole and try to help without falling in yourself. Up around the edge of the hole, you find a few things that look useful. Theres a map of how other people have gotten out of similar holes, showing footholds and good ways to make the climb up. You find a long rope with knots, which looks like it could hold your spouses weight. You also find a few shovels that they could use to change the shape of the hole and more easily climb out themselves. It seems there are other possibly useful things around the hole as you keep looking, but you are sure one of these will work.

    You tell your spouse about all these solutions up here at the top of the hole, hoping to provide some encouragement. It is dark down there and they are feeling lonely.

    Your spouse tosses the rope back up. Says theres no way.

    UPDATE:

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