Depression, in a marriage, is a major source of divorce, often called the 'silent killer', because the signs and symptoms closely mimic unhappiness, anger and resentment. Withdrawing from a partner, no communication and a simple lack of all responses can easily be interpreted as the actions of someone who no longer loves you. These actions often leave the other partner feeling hurt and wondering if they are the cause of this behavior - this is actually far from the truth. The problem is also made worse by the fact that very few of us are actually equipped to deal with this illness.
If your partner is suffering with depression, you are not alone - in the United States it is estimated that 17million people are affected yearly making it the most common medical problem diagnosed by Doctors.
Depression is an awful disease for the patient and is very emotionally draining for their family and loved ones. If you don't understand the illness, it is very easy to become frustrated and angry with the person suffering from depression but it is vitally important to remember that depression is caused by changes that occur in the brain's chemistry that the depressed person has no control over.
What are the symptoms of depression? These are the most common signs and can range from mild to severe, and can last for a few hours to a few years:
• Always tired - no motivation
• Persistent sad, anxious, or 'empty' moods
• Sleeping too much or sleeping far less than normal - awakening during the night or very early in the morning
• Reduced appetite and weight loss. The opposite might also apply - increased appetite
• Thoughts of death or suicide
• Other persistent medical problems that don't respond to treatment
• Low self-esteem
• Often very negative in their thoughts and actions
Depression is normally triggered by a small concern that starts to 'nag' at the sufferer, they then start to worry incessantly about the concern and then it just gets bigger and bigger until it spirals out of control into full blown depression. Nothing you do can stop it!
There are however, some keys to overcoming depression and keeping your marriage strong. As is true with all illnesses, prevention is the best medicine so here are some strategies for preventing and defeating depression:
• Educate yourself and your partner about depression - having an awareness and understanding of the signs/symptoms can greatly reduce any negative consequences
• Seek professional help as early as possible. It is extremely important that the 'patient' develops a rapport with their psychiatrist as with the help of this doctor, and anti-depressants they will recover
• Confide in your family, a close friend or even your pastor as it is important for you to also have someone to speak to when the going gets tough.
• Address any problems in your marriage or personal life as soon as they arise - do not allow them to 'fester' and thereby promote another bout of depression in your partner.
• Ensure your partner gets plenty of exercise. Regular exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream - they are mood enhancers.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you that there is no shame in suffering with depression, remember there are 17 million other people in the US also suffering from the same disease. What is important is for you to seek help and treatment as early as possible. Please also bear in mind the vows you took when you got married "...for better or worse, through good health and sickness..." Marriage means two people stay committed, through good and bad!