Depressed Spouse: How to Help Your Partner With Depression
Depression is something that will, most likely, affect everyone at some point in their life. Whether that is directly or indirectly, through friends and family members, knowing how to deal with it is challenging. On one hand, you want to be able to help, but on the other hand, it can be hard being relied on so often.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. Nor is it trivial, or “not a genuine health condition.” Depression is a globally recognized mental illness. It’s a real illness and it has real symptoms.
It can be a difficult time that both you, and your partner, can overcome with the right help and guidance. This article will provide you with information about how to help your partner deal with their mental condition.
What Is Depression?
Depression, simply put, is a persistent sadness that lasts for weeks, months, or longer. Many people may describe their short-term, low state of mood as “depressed,” but that would be different from clinical depression.
Clinical depression is a serious mood disorder that can have a severe impact on the way that someone feels, thinks, and makes decisions. A diagnosis of clinical depression is only given if the negative symptoms associated with depression are present for at least two weeks or more.
Symptoms of Depression
Some commonly experienced negative emotional symptoms include:
- Persistent low spirit
- Lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Feelings of numbness or “emptiness”
Symptoms can also be physical. They can include:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Not getting enough sleep, or getting too much sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Lower sex drive than normal
- General aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
If you think that your depressed partner is struggling, you might see it manifest in different ways. For example, a partner living with depression may:
- Become angry or cry often
- Become lethargic or lose interest in things they used to enjoy
- Struggle to concentrate or focus
- Sleep more often, or too little
- Use drugs or abuse alcohol more regularly than normal
- Lose interest in sex
Oftentimes, individuals suffering from depression may also suffer from symptoms of anxiety or other mental illnesses.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from or thinking of acting out suicidal thoughts, it is important to seek professional help immediately. You can dial 988 to speak to crisis workers, who are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
The definition of depression has changed over time, as have some conditions associated with it. Different types of depression may manifest in different ways. If your partner has got a diagnosis of depression, then it is important to know exactly how it might be affecting them.
Different Types of Depression
As mentioned, there are a few different types of depression. Some of these include, but are not limited to:
- Major depression (MDD)
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
- Bipolar disorder – sometimes known as manic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Psychotic depression
- Postpartum depression
Different types of depression can present themselves in different ways. For example, if your partner suffers from bipolar disorder, they will not be persistently depressed in the same way that someone with the major depressive disorder would. Bipolar disorder involves mood swings that can swing from one extreme to the other. They may experience periods of extreme emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression).
How a mental health professional might treat these conditions varies as well. Treatment that might be effective at treating persistent depressive disorder may exacerbate someone’s bipolar depression.
So, now that you have an understanding of the different types of depression and how different types may need to be dealt with differently, you might be asking “how can I help my depressed spouse?”
Helping Your Depressed Spouse
As mentioned before, depression is a globally recognized health condition. You must, therefore, treat it as one. It is important to treat your depressed spouse with the level of care and empathy that you would have if they had a physical health condition. Just because you can’t see a health condition, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
As mentioned, your depressed spouse may be more angry than normal or may have angry outbursts from time to time. It is important to react to these outbursts with compassion, and not with more anger. If you respond to anger with more anger, you are at risk of making your partner feel hurt which might worsen their depression. This vicious cycle will only cause more damage.
Instead, if your partner has a diagnosis of depression, then it is important to treat these outbursts with compassion. If you suspect your partner might have depression, but it is undiagnosed, then they may benefit from going to therapy. Untreated depression could get worse and worse without proper treatment.
It can be a tough time when your spouse is suffering from depression, but it is important to stay connected throughout their struggle. Taking care of their feelings and emotions as best you can will help your spouse deal with their diagnosis. If you are able to listen to their feelings and encourage them to talk to friends and family, they may find some relief and build their support network, taking some of the pressure off of you.
At the end of the day, you and your partner must remember that, as much as you can try and understand your partner’s pain, you are not a therapist. If they are struggling to cope, then they should seek professional help and go to therapy. They can do this by speaking to their family doctor, or they can contact a center that can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Men With Depression
If you suspect that your husband is suffering from depression, the likelihood is that they either don’t recognize it in themselves, or they are not willing to talk about the condition openly. According to this study in the American Journal of Men’s Health, 48% of men who suffer from symptoms of depression reported not seeking help.
It is evident that many men who are suffering from mental illness do not go out and seek the help they need. Therefore it could be the case that you need to encourage your depressed husband to get therapy for his mental illness. It is common in a healthy relationship to feel supported, and that doesn’t change if your partner is struggling with depression.
Both depressed men and women need to feel supported. In a healthy relationship, they should be able to find this through their partner, but it is important that you don’t play the role of therapist. There are support groups that could provide such a support network, and therapy – which could include medication – to support people with depression.
Mental Health Treatment
If you’re in a relationship and you’re concerned that your partner might be displaying signs of depression, then it may be relieving to know that help is widely available. Initially, if your partner is reluctant to seek help, there are ways to address their mental illness in a positive way.
For example, some online resources may enable your partner to work on their mental health condition at home. These resources could help your partner practice self-care when they are experiencing bouts of depression. However, online resources and self-care may not be enough to cope with their condition. In that case, it would be a good idea to seek the help of a mental health professional who can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Treatment for the condition will usually always involve a type of therapy. Throughout the therapy process, a mental health professional will show a person how to challenge their patterns of thought as well as behavior that may lead to their depression. They may also provide a support group, made up of other people who are also going through a hard time.
Alongside the therapy process, people with depression might also take medically-reviewed medication as a form of treatment. If you think this could help your spouse, then you should seek the advice of a professional. They may recommend a certain type of therapy, medication, or both.
Where Can I Get Help?
If you worry about your partner’s behavior, or if you sense that your depressed spouse is going through a hard time, then it could help to know that life can get better, with help.
Oftentimes, a drug and alcohol addiction can make a mental health condition worse. If this is the case, then we, at Brookdale, can help. We are a luxury treatment facility dedicated to treating each client with the deepest level of dignity, respect, and compassion.
Alongside combating an addiction, we understand that co-occurring mental health disorders can make addiction much harder to deal with, and vice versa. Therefore, we offer different types of therapy and holistic techniques, incorporating behavioral enhancement, healthy activities, education, and support in everything we do.
If you are ready to combat your addiction, alongside treating your mental health, then contact us at (570) 701-8133, or email us: [email protected] and start your journey to a better life, today.