Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Living With A Depressed Spouse

Negative Unrealistic Ways Of Thinking That Fuel Male Depression

Marriage & Divorce : Living With a Depressed Spouse

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

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

Know That The Odds Are In Your Favor

Up to 80 percent of people report seeing an improvement within four to six weeks of starting treatment, according to statistics from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Usually, the road back is relatively simple: antidepressants, counseling, or a combination of the two, they report. That said, recovery may take time and patience, Walfish says. There may be an initial trial-and-error period while you try various antidepressants or see whether various therapy techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal counseling, are helpful. The results are worth it.

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Dont Fall Into The Trap Of The Blame Game

Dealing with a partners depression can provoke frustration and resentment, especially if you find yourself making excuses for a loved ones social absences, or if some household responsibilities arent being done.

Be open to new routines and ways of relating. Make sure you also look after your own needs and take care of yourself, so that you’re 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.

Ways To Support A Spouse Living With Depression

Living with a Depressed Spouse is Ruining My Marriage ...

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Depression is a complex thing with many faces. It can look like happiness one day, followed by the deepest form of sadness the next day. It can cause confusion, frustration, and has the ability to upset everyone in its path. Now imagine what it’s like to be that person dealing with depression… it’s horrible, and I know this because I have lived with depression for over 15 years. But here’s something we don’t always talk about… how it feels to be the person in love with the person with depression. My heart feels heavy just writing about this because it cannot be easy. As hard as it is to be the one living with depression, it must feel so incredibly tough to be their spouse — bearing witness to everything that you’re going through and feeling helpless because they’ve never experienced depression first-hand.

Here are six ways you can support a spouse with depression:


If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

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Be Open But Not Overprotective

Talk to the depressive person without excessive compassion. Excessive compassion will only increase the guilt and suffering in the person suffering. Your compassion may be too much for them.

Consider talking candidly about depression with trusted people outside of your family or relationship. I encourage it, actually. Talk about it de-stigmatize the topic. By talking about it compassionately, depression begins to lose some of its shame and guilt. Once you start talking about the problem, other people will start sharing their stories, too. It is quite humanizingand communicates to us that we are not alone.

Conversations with people can help your suffering partner realize that they are not alone that they are not isolated in their experience. Furthermore, it gives them the opportunity to experience care and compassion from another person. We all know and have experienced the relief that comes with a brief encounter with another person. These moments can be immensely powerful. In fact, open conversation about depression can be especially important if the depressed person refuses to seek professional help, as it can galvanize them toward seeking outside help and starting therapy.

Remember To 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:

  • Spend time in nature
  • Stay socially connected

Caring for yourself might also mean knowing when it’s time to say goodbye. Certainly, this decision should be weighed carefully , but you may need to walk away if you or your children’s emotional or physical well-being or safety is at risk.

Also Check: Where To Go To Get Diagnosed With Depression

Your Loved One Needs To Bear The Emotional Weight Of Their Experience In Order To Come Through It But Be Wary Of Heaping More Pressure On Through What You Say And Do

If you take too much responsibility and are not enough care of yourself in healthy ways, it is easy to begin attacking yourselfmuch like what your partner is doing to themselves.

The risk of the erosion of relationship must not be overlooked. Ill say it again, as Ive seen it so many times, the risk of erosion in the relationship must not be overlooked. For most folks this is happening unconsciously, as its too painful to look at what it is theyre actually experiencing. Take time to consider what youre experiencing and how this is for you. Share these things with your partner, but dont heap blame asthat only deepens the depression. In a way, youre but grieving the loss of the life you had.

It is even possible that your loved ones other family members may begin to blame you for not taking care of the depressive person, which in a way, only enables the depression even further. This is an opportunity for the entire system to come to a more healthy understanding of whats helpful.

Depression In A Relationship: When Your Spouse Is Depressed

On Living with Spouse who has Depression

When your spouse has depression, your marriage or relationship can become strained. And it is not easy loving someone who is always unhappy and negative.

Whats worse is when a depressed spouse wont admit they are depressed and refuses treatment.

Here is what you need to know about living with a depressed spouse, coping when your partner is depressed, helping them, and what to do when they refuse help and push you away.

Read Also: How To Cure Depression And Anxiety

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

How Should You Deal With A Depressed Spouse

Early 20th century English novelist Virginia Woolf dealt with depression throughout her life. She finally succumbed to it in 1941 by committing suicide. Before she did, however, she wrote her beloved husband, Leonard, a letter. In it, she said to him: “… until this disease came on, we were perfectly happy.”

If Leonard Woolf had known ahead of time that his wife was planning to end her life, could he have stopped her? We’ll never know for sure. However, what we can assume is that Virginia’s story might have had a more positive ending had she lived in our modern times. There’s now a much greater understanding of clinical depression — and a wider variety of effective treatments for it. So if you believe your spouse is depressed, and you want to avoid a worst-case scenario, like the one played out by Virginia Woolf, look for these signs, as described by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Withdrawal and spending a lot of time alone
  • Noticeable or rapid mood swings
  • Dramatic personality changes
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Substance abuse
  • Giving belongings away to others
  • Saying goodbye to others
  • Blatantly discussing suicide

Anyone experiencing depression can benefit from professional treatment however, seeing a doctor or mental health professional is critical if your spouse is experiencing any of the above behaviors.

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A Depressed Spouse Can Challenge A Marriage

But when these kinds of behaviors enter a marriage, healthy spouses tend to take it personally. They may question whether they are part of the problem. They may wonder if its their fault, that their partners would be happier if they were more helpful around the house or more attractive.

Additionally, a hallmark of major depression is a loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable. Combine that with a victims social withdrawal, and physical affection diminishes as well. Understandably, spouses of depressed people often experience their own depression.

What Depression In A Relationship Or Marriage Looks Like

Living with an Anxious Spouse

When one spouse is depressed, it takes a toll on the entire marriage or relationship. This is because depression affects every aspect of the marriage or relationship, from finances to household responsibilities, and to emotional and sexual intimacy.

Research from the Readers Digest Marriage in America Survey finds that 42 percent of people report depression as one of the bigger challenges in their intimate relationships.

The harmful effects of depression are not limited to the depressed person. The partner of the depressed person is equally affected, especially because depression disrupts communication and social patterns in romantic relationships.

The mood of the depressed spouse contributes to the mood of the partner who is not depressed. For example, the spouse who is not depressed may make excuses when the depressed spouse doesnt participate in family functions or must take over most of the family responsibilities.

Caring for a depressed spouse can feel lonely and emotionally draining. You might blame yourself or feel hopeless, or even consider walking away.

It is normal for you to feel angry and frustrated, especially when your depressed spouse constantly pessimistic and angry. Or he or she doesnt help with household chores, getting the kids to bed, or ask how you are doing or acknowledge how you have been trying to hold everything together alone.

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Be Supportive And Encouraging

Provide the necessary support to your loved one. However, in the same way that your compassion cant cure depression, keep in mind that your support cannot solve the problems for the depressive partner or family member. This is their journey of grieving what was lost and turning towards something where they experience life and value. You have your own grief to be working through, youve lost something as well. They are and arent there. Its a gift to be journeying with another through this. Ive written previously on the paramount importance of grief in working with depression. The same goes here. Theres something so beautiful, vulnerable, and also riveting to look your partner in the eye, turn towards the experience of the moment in the fullest sense and have a good cry over what was lost. Because, between the two of you something was lost. Some feeling or shared value or experience that brought the two of you together.

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.

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Depression Is Widely Misunderstood

Major depression is a widely misunderstood illness. It is a biologically based disorder that appears in a variety of disguises before being diagnosed. It can appear as irritability, moodiness or changes in personality and may manifest itself differently in men and women. In men, depression often includes increased anger, irritability and alcohol and drug use. In women, symptoms may include withdrawal, tearfulness, lack of energy and an inability to concentrate.

Many of the behaviors associated with depression arent under the sufferers direct control. You cant tell them to snap out of it any more than you can people with diabetes or other biological illnesses.

Seek Diagnoses And Treatment

How To Handle Your Depressed Spouse

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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Encourage Them To Seek Help

One of the most important things you can do as a partner encourages your loved one to seek professional help. Depression is a serious mental illness that should not be taken lightly left untreated, it can lead to bigger problems down the line. If your spouse isnt ready for treatment yet, dont push thembut continue being there for them and let them know that youll be there when theyre ready to seek help.

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Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a womans life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

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Understand Depression Is Episodic

Your spouse will go through good and bad periods when battling depression. These periods could be long or short, as everyones experience with the disease is different. Just because your spouse seems to be feeling better doesnt mean that they no longer have depression. If you become overwhelmed by your spouses emotions, turn to a professional for your own support.

Create A Supportive Home Environment

How to Help your Spouse Fight Depression

Its important to remember that your partners depression isnt anyones fault. While you cant fix it, your support will help your partner work through this difficult time.

Changes in lifestyle can make a big difference during the treatment process. Because depression can zap a persons energy and affect both sleep and appetite, it can be difficult for depressed people to make healthy choices. You can help:

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Sharing Your Faith With Grace And Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faithyou just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the Columbo tactic of asking questions, the self-defeating argument tactic to find holes in your opponents arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

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