Depression is a common illness that affects approximately 4 percent of the global population. This might seem like a small number, but it works out to roughly 280 million people.
The same data linked above also shows that depression is on the rise and has been for the last 30 years. Even though more people are affected by depression than have been previously, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this condition and how to help family members and loved ones who struggle with it.
For those who have a depressed spouse and don’t know how to support them, some important questions are answered below and can shed more light on the issue.
Table of Contents
(click on a question to be directed quickly)
How do you deal with a depressed spouse?
How do I know if my spouse has depression?
How does living with a partner with depression affect me?
What is the best way to help a depressed spouse?
How Do You Deal with a Depressed Partner?
If you have a depressed spouse, it can be hard to encourage your partner and convince them to seek help.
When one person struggles with depression, it can also create a vicious cycle — especially if that person withdraws or has angry outbursts.
The other partner may feel hurt by these actions and respond in the same way. This can further exacerbate the depressed person’s symptoms and cause them to withdraw further or get even angrier than they were previously.
A better way to handle living with a depressed spouse and encourage them to get help is to talk to them calmly and let them know what you’ve observed — as well as how their symptoms of depression are affecting you.
When bringing these things up, it’s important to not be accusatory. Instead, acknowledge that it’s a difficult time for your partner.
How Do I Know if My Spouse Has Depression?
It is also helpful to learn about depression — and what depression isn’t — if you want to help a depressed partner.
The more you know about the signs of depression, the different types of depression — major depression, postpartum depression, bipolar depression, etc. — and the different treatment processes available, the easier it will be for you to address the problem effectively.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, people with depression may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:
- Crying often
- Seeming angry often
- Lacking energy
- Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping more often than usual
- Sleeping very little
- Drinking more alcohol than usual
- Using drugs
- Losing interest in sex
If you notice your partner feeling or showing any of these symptoms, they need help from a mental health professional. They may also need to seek medical advice from a physician to rule out other causes.
Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas
How Does Living with a Partner with Depression Affect Me?
Trying to deal with depression isn’t only taxing on your spouse. It’s also difficult for you.
Living with a partner with depression can affect the other person in several ways, including the following:
- A lack of sex and physical intimacy: Jennifer Payne, the director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine, says that a low sex drive is a common indicator of depression; if your partner isn’t interested in sex, this will likely lead to a lack of intimacy for you, which can impact your satisfaction with the relationship.
- More fighting, arguing, etc.: You may find yourself getting frustrated with your partner more often when they’re dealing with depression; this, in turn, could lead to more fights and arguments.
- Isolation and separation: You may also feel isolated and separated from your partner — both physically and emotionally; over time, this may even cause feelings of depression and anxiety for you.
- A lack of self-care: If you’re picking up the slack in the relationship and doing a lot to support your depressed partner, you may find that you stop taking care of yourself; you may stop exercising, eating healthfully, etc.
It’s important to take care of yourself as well as your partner. This might mean making time to do things you enjoy, such as exercising regularly, reading a book, or going to a movie.
Remember, if you neglect your own physical and mental health, you won’t have the energy or resources needed to support your partner and help them through their own difficulties.
What Is the Best Way to Help a Depressed Spouse?
The first step to helping a depressed spouse is learning as much as you can about depression and mental health. The more you know, the easier it will be to empathize with your partner and give them the support they need.
Being present is also important. Even if your spouse is withdrawing from you and spending more time alone, letting them know that you’re here and are ready to listen or lend a hand can make a big difference.
Do what you can to create a supportive home environment, too.
For example, prepare healthy meals and make it easy for your partner to eat nutritious food. Encourage them to exercise with you, as well, and try to reduce as much stress as possible — you may need to take over more chores, for example, or handle things like bills so they don’t have too much on their plate.
You may also need to encourage your partner to seek treatment. This might mean recommending they attend support groups for those with depression, helping them set up an appointment with a therapist, or recommending that they look into antidepressants and other medications that can help them manage their symptoms.
National Institutes of Mental Health: Depression
Jennifer Payne: Low Sex Drive — Could It Be a Sign of Depression?
Written By: Natalie T.
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT
Edited By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik
Last Updated : 04/18/2023
Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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