Depression affects many people at some point or another in their lives. Depression robs us of joy, hope, fulfillment, and energy. The causes of depression are many, and may include unresolved past trauma, current life challenges, grief, and/or brain chemistry issues. One cause that is frequently overlooked is the impact an emotionally or psychologically abusive relationship can have on our mental well being. Here are 6 signs that your depression may have a lot to do with the emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship you are in:
1. Your partner puts you down, publicly or in private. These put downs may be blatant name calling or more subtle criticisms or who you are, how you do things, and even your mental state. The effect is damaging and leaves you feeling inferior, incompetent, perhaps even crazy.
2. Your partner attempts to control your daily activities. You may be prohibited from doing certain things, or feel obligated to report your activities to your partner on a regular basis. You may feel defensive or as if you must justify your actions to your partner, and may even find yourself sticking to doing things that you know your partner will approve of, just to avoid criticism.
3. Your partner discourages you form pursuing work or education opportunities. This tactic helps keep you feeling dependent on your partner for your basic financial security and keeps you feeling down about yourself.
4. Your partner prohibits or pressures you to isolate yourself and stay away from friends and family. He or she may manipulate you by putting guilt on you, "I can't believe you would rather spend time with her than with me." This tactic serves the abuser's agenda in a couple of ways. First, it affirms his or her control over your behavior, and it also keeps you from hearing the more positive and accurate messages about you from your loved ones. It also reduced opportunities for your friends and family to criticize your partner.
5. Your partner uses sex to manipulate and control you, much like a weapon. He or she may demand you meet his or her need for sex and intimacy, regardless of your preferences and mental state. Your partner may take the opposite tack, and deliberately withhold sex and affection from you when you express your desires. This keeps you feeling rejected and inferior, and again affirms the abuser's control.
6. Your partner threatens you with non-physical consequences for not complying with his or her demands. Once in awhile, your partner may behave kindly or generously toward you, but rather than being a selfless act of love, it is a tactic designed to draw you back into the relationship and into his or her control. Once you are reinvested, the emotionally abusive behavior begins again.