Depression is a common malady that afflicts many people at some point or another in their lives. There may be a multitude of factors to cause the symptoms - unresolved past grief, current life challenges, and/or brain chemistry issues. However, there is one factor that is often missed when determining the origins of depression. Emotionally and psychologically abusive relationships can do a tremendous amount of damage to our feelings of self worth and cause feelings of depression and hopelessness. Often, due to the nature of this type of abuse, the victim blames him or herself for the problem, assuming that their abuser is correct and they are inferior, incompetent, or even crazy. Emotional abuse can be difficult to detect especially in its more subtle forms. Here are 5 signs your depression may be caused by an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship:
1. Your partner puts you down, in public or private. These insults may be as blatant as outright name calling, or they may be more subtle criticisms of the way you do simple things. In any case, the end result is a feeling of inferiority and worthlessness in comparison to your partner.
2. Your partner attempts to control your activities. You may feel obligated to report your activities to your partner, justify your actions, and endure criticism of the way you managed your day. You may even feel pressured to conform to an "acceptable" list of activities your partner approves of.
3. Your partner attempts to limit access to anything that might foster independence, such as work, educational opportunities, and friends and family. Isolation is a very effective tactic for the abuser. Keeping you dependent keeps the abuser in control. In keeping you from friends and family, not only are you under the abuser's thumb, you are also being kept from hearing the more positive, accurate messages about yourself from your loved ones. It may also reduce the opportunity your loved ones might take to criticize your abuser. Your abuser may expressly forbid you to see someone, or be more subtle by appealing to your guilt. "You would choose to see them over me?"
4. Your partner uses sex as a form of control and manipulation. This could take the form of demanding sex from you regardless of your mental state, needs or desires, or it may manifest as a deliberate withholding of sex and intimacy in order to keep you feeling rejected, dependent, and at the mercy of the abuser's agenda.
5. Your partner may imply that you will be punished non-physically for not complying with his or her demands. This tactic may also be punctuated with occasional acts of kindness and generosity designed to throw you off and plant false hope in the future of the relationship and its potential for improvement.