How I Stopped Depression From Ruining My Long
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder when I was seventeen.
Instinctually, I knew I was different. I knew the constant melancholy and sadness, the anger and anxiety were a part of something larger. I knew it wasnt a phase. By the time I was twenty-two, I had tried various depression medications, and nothing worked. I thought therapy was bullshit, and I didnt even give it a try. I just persevered.
When To Seek Help
Sometimes taking actions to manage your depression isnt possible all by yourself.
Whether you want to consult an individual or couples therapist, a naturopath or a physician, those are positive steps toward health and growth and not signs of or an admission of failure. Everyone can use more tools in their toolbox, more coping skills, and more healthy habits, says Rattray. You dont have to wait until you feel terrible to get help to live a better life. When youre aware youre not feeling the way you used to, or not feeling the way you want to, reach out for help.
Take Care Of Yourself
It can be very stressful coping with another person’s depression. It’s OK to take some time out for yourself. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, you’ll both be better off if you carve out time to safeguard your mind, body, and spirit with habits like:
- Spending time in nature
- Staying socially connected
Caring for yourself might also mean knowing when it’s time to say goodbye. Certainly, this decision should be weighed carefully . But if your or your children’s emotional or physical well-being or safety is at risk, you may need to walk away.
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Signs That Depression Is Eroding Your Relationship
If youre depressed, you could be dragging your mate to the dumps with you. Here are 5 common symptoms that wreck relationships and expert advice on how to get love back on trackWhen youre in a relationship and feeling depressed, two people suffer. Karen S., a business executive in her late 20s, had been with her boyfriend eight months when she fell into a funk.She no longer enjoyed her favorite activities, preferring to spend weekends sleeping in and watching TV. Her boyfriend missed the fun-loving, outgoing woman hed fallen for. Their sex life was nonexistent. He thought she wasnt interested in him anymore.A few months later, Karen’s doctor diagnosed her with depression. She eventually got the help she needed, but it was too late – the relationship didnt survive.That doesnt surprise Miami marriage and family therapist Lisa Paz, Ph.D.Depression makes the non-depressed partner feel helpless and confused, she says. silence, withdrawal, and no sex or desire to do anything, partners think this is the turn the relationship is taking that this is the way its always going to be.
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The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
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While I Still Struggle I Have The Tools Necessary To Fight
My relationship with my partner was on the brink of failure, now were stronger than ever.
If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSAs National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP or text HELLO to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.
Tips For Managing When Your Spouse Is Depressed
Being married to someone with depression doesn’t need to harm your relationship. As long as you stay on the same team, the experience could deepen your understanding of one another and improve your communication skills.
Here are some tips to help make living with a depressed spouse a little easier:
Let go of resentment
When you love someone with depression, remember that depression is the enemy, not your spouse. To maintain a strong and happy partnership, you should direct any feelings of anger or resentment you have toward the illness rather than to one another. For example, instead of saying, “I hate it when you refuse to communicate with me,” you could say, “I hate it when depression makes it hard for us to communicate.” This way, your partner doesn’t feel attacked or blamed, but you can still make your feelings heard.
Encourage honesty and open communication
According to UK depression charity, Blurt, honesty is incredibly important when you’re living with a depressed spouse, and it should come from both sides:
“It is better to be completely honest from the word go.’ It’s a lot for the well’ person to take in too, so it’s only fair that they are aware of our additional needs.”
Encourage your partner to be honest with you, and don’t be afraid to be honest back. If you’re feeling worried or confused, share this with your spouse in a way that doesn’t point the finger or make your partner feel ashamed.
Encourage your spouse to get treatment
Build your own support system
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Unhealthy Partners May Belittle You
My partner was a master at belittling me and that really came out when they found out I had anxiety and depression. They would make comments like, Youre acting crazy again, and Youre being way too much right now, that left me feeling like I needed to shrink, and stop talking about things I was having a hard time with.
Subconsciously, I started to agree with their put-downs and internalized the criticism I received on a daily basis. Everyone else can deal with their problems, my partner would say so why couldnt I? Eventually, it led me to stop taking my medications or from seeing my therapist because I trusted them over the things I knew I needed.
Unlike public displays of volatility or anger, belittling is often reserved for private settings. And left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on your self-esteem, making any anxious self-criticism go into overdrive.
Keeping track of specific comments, or even screenshotting text messages, that made me feel belittled or minimized helped me determine whether I was being put down in my relationship. This was key in eventually helping me leave the relationship.
Now The Good News: Anxiety Doesn’t Have To Ruin Your Relationshiphere Are 3 Strategies That Can Help:
1. Dont use your partner as a personal therapist or a complaint box
Of course, its a great idea to be open with your S.O. about the anxiety you experience, what triggers it, and how it manifestsbut boundaries are key. It’s great if you feel some catharsis or personal productivity by talking through anxiety-inducing situations, but Dr. Carmichael says your partner isn’t necessarily the best person for you to turn to. Rather than relying on your partner to shoulder all the feelings and stressors you’re navigating, which may in turn make them feel uneasy about sharing their own beef, find a therapist to work with.
2. Learn how to talk about it
Anxiety is not a weakness. And it’s not always a bad thing or an unhealthy thing, either, says Dr. Carmichael. While neither you nor your partner wont necessarily ever fully understand how your anxiety operates, you can practice being open about it in the moments when you experience it. From there, work on sharing with your partner how they can help. Maybe its a cooling walk around the block, or a cuddle, or some space so you can process things quietly. One things for sure, though: You dont want your partner to take your anxiety personally.
3. Find comfort in vulnerability, but dont let anxiety be your only bonding moment as a couple
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Why Is Depression Is Ruining My Relationship
If you think depression is ruining your relationship, the first thing you should do is talk to your partner to find out how they are feeling. You dont know that depression is ruining your relationship unless you ask your partner to weigh in. It may be that your worries are unfounded, or your partner might welcome the opportunity to talk about how your mental illness is affecting them. Either way, it is best to encourage open communication, whatever feelings and frustrations come to the surface.
Communication isnt always easy, however, especially when one partner is depressed. Depression can make you withdraw, and it may seem to your partner as though you have given up on life. Although you cant help feeling this way, it may come across to your partner that you dont care, or that you’re not interested in them anymore. People who are depressed are often too tired, ashamed or withdrawn to explain that this isn’t the case. Often, they are not sure why they are depressed. All of this can be difficult to understand.
Your partner may also feel cheated, and this is understandable because depression is typically not much fun to be around. “Most people fall in love because they are enjoying each other’s company and having fun together,” says Dan Jones, Ph.D., director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Appalachian State University. When this changes, the relationship can become strained.
The Literature On What To Do Can Feel A Little Cloudy Heres How To Be Supportive And Be Supported If Your Partner Or Spouse Has Depression
No one teaches us how to navigate a relationship when mental illness or depression enters the equation.
I recently read a Washington Post article by a woman whose relationship was torn apart while she and her partner tried to deal with his depression.
My personal take is the author simply wasnt equipped to deal with a partner coping with depression. Most of us arent.
Last year when I plunged into a depressive episode during our relationship, my partner was at a loss. He had never dealt with this and wanted so badly to help, but had no idea what to do. He was left wondering, How can you help a depressed partner or spouse?
We went looking for books and found there was little out there, and what currently does exist approaches the topic in a you vs. your partner and their depression way. We werent comfortable with that, and set out to find a different way to do ita way that would give him insight into my experience and allow him to support me, while giving him what he needed as well.
Our experiment worked!
Sure we hit bumps along the road, but in the end I felt loved, supported, and understood in a way I never had before during a depressive episode, and he felt like he knew what was going ona big deal in this situationand was equipped to deal with it.
Our experience inspired this list of five ways to grow together rather than apart when navigating through a relationships depressive episodes with your partner:
Find A Support System For Yourself
This is a lot of work for one person, and you are doing some serious heavy-lifting by supporting a depressed partner in a relationship.
What about when you need to vent?
What about when you need someone to be your soft landing place and during a period of time when your partner just CANNOT do it?
How do you stop that from filling you with frustration and resentment?
Make sure you have your own support network. Hopefully your partner has a therapist, and you may want to consider one for yourself. Or maybe you have a really strong network of family and/or friends you can talk to. Maybe theres just one person in your life who really gets it, or who doesnt understand it at all but with whom you can shut off you brain and do something else entirely.
Make sure youre getting support too, because you need it, you deserve it, and no matter how much your partner may want to provide it for you, depression can make it near-impossible for them to do so at times.
Overall, when it comes to navigating depression in relationships together, think about what will make you each stronger. These ideas are all about standing in solidarity with your partner, validating them when they feel vulnerable, and ensuring support for yourself.
In short, I know you BOTH can do this.
This article was originally published on YourTango republished with the kindest permission.
Get Involved In Treatment
When one spouse goes for treatment for depression, they are on a personal journey of healing and wellness, but theyre not alone. Depression impacts both partners in the relationship, which means both should be involved in treatment.
You can be involved in your spouses treatment in several ways. Most facilities have family days and visiting times. And many involve families in the treatment itself. Attend relationship therapy so that you can rebuild your marriage together as your spouse heals from depression.
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Getting Help For Depression In Marriage: What Works
If a couple decides that professional counseling is needed, the depressed partner may want to go alone first, Jones says. Or, he has found that some nondepressed partners try to persuade the depressed person to get help and the partner won’t go.
Seeing a therapist together can give a couple valuable perspective, he says. “The therapist mediates,” he says. “It’s not a blaming session, but rather the therapist helps the depressed person recognize they are contributing to . If they improve the depression, they could improve the marriage.”
In a study, Italian researchers reviewed the data on whether couple therapy was a better way to treat depression in one partner and found no difference between couple therapy and individual therapy on the symptoms of depression. But couple therapy better reduced “relationship distress,” they report in the journal Psychiatric Quarterly.
Often, talking about the depression — whether alone or with a partner in therapy — brings up other issues in a marriage that, when addressed, help ease the depression, Sherman says.
Unhealthy Partners May Gaslight You
I dated my unhealthy partner while working on my second masters degree in counseling, so its ironic to me now that I didnt even realize it when gaslighting had become a daily part of my relationship.
Id approach my partner to talk about something that had upset me, like the time they said something disrespectful in front of my friends at dinner, and walk away feeling selfish for bringing it up in the first place. Maybe what they said wasnt so badmaybe I was being overly sensitive, Id think to myself. I was never sure, and my partner liked it that way.
Gaslighting is an emotional abuse tactic that unhealthy partners can use to make you second-guess yourself. If its happening to you, you might think, maybe Im just overreacting every time something your partner does makes you uncomfortable. Or you might find yourself apologizing for things that arent actually your fault.
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Create A Common Language
Someone dealing with depression is living in a whole different world. Getting angry at them for not showing up for you the same way they did before a depressive episode struck is like getting mad at your dog for not being ice creamfutile, frustrating, and kind of mean.
To continue engaging in a relationship you need to start speaking the same language and, as weve already established, they cant speak yours right now.
One of the first things I taught my partner was the Spoon Theory. Created by Christine Miserandino , the Spoon Theory gave my partner a concrete understanding of my limited physical, mental, and emotional resources, as well as a simple language with which to ask about them.
The other resource that we found most helpful in understanding the unique language around depression was, well, a video game! Seriously!
When I first played Depression Quest, I wept because Id never felt so understood.
When my partner first played it, he called me, sounding shaken. He asked if it was accurate, if thats really how it felt. I told him yes, and he admitted that depression was so much harder, scarier, and more frustrating than it looks from the outside. The word dystopian may even have been used
Is Depression Quests story universal? No. Does it describe everyones depression? No.
Depression looks different from person to person and even from episode to episode, but I have never seen anything else evoke the feelings of depression the way that game does.
How To Stop Anxiety From Destroying Relationships
There is an abundance of information about how anxiety impacts our healthmentally, emotionally, and physically. Anxiety can cause periods of panic, feelings of fear or overwhelm, and a general sense of unease and tension. It can take over your thoughts and bleed into many areas of your life. Have you considered how anxiety destroys relationships with those closest to you?
If you are feeling a strain on your relationship, anxiety may be playing a role. Could your anxiety be putting your relationship at risk?
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Whats It Like To Live With A Depressed Spouse
Living with a depressed spouse can cause all sorts of problems. Firstly, many couples lose their ability to problem-solve when they cannot communicate, and depression makes talking and reasoning difficult for some people. Partners of people with depression may also need to take on the burden of extra household chores or childcare responsibilities, or else they may be the sole earner, which puts a financial strain on the relationship. Depression can also have a negative effect on sex and intimacy.
It’s important to remember that all of this is temporary and that in most cases, depression is a treatable illness.
An individuals experience of living with a depressed spouse is also dependent on the severity of their partners illness. Just like any serious illness, depression can cause a rift in a marriage, or it can unite couples, so they become even closer. Whether or not your spouse’s depression has a negative impact on your relationship is dependent on how severe their depression symptoms are, as well as how you respond to and meet their needs.