The dynamic that depression plays into your marriage is a silent killer. The depressed partner will typically withdrawal out of the relationship because they are depressed. The other person feels frustrated and powerless to make a difference. The non depressed spouse typical expresses their frustration with criticism, which makes the depression worse. Depression feeds the negative cycle in the relationship i.e. if your depressed the more critical you become or you stonewall more. Depression is serious because it can put your marriage on the fast track towards divorce, even when things were great a few months earlier. Many depressed people want to change their surroundings i.e. need a vacation, change job or spouse, etc. This is a time when many depressed partners have affairs.
Spouses who are depressed express it two ways:
- Being critical and irritable.
- Withdrawn and shutdown, or being passive-aggressive.
Partners of depressed spouses often feel like their spouse is lazy or trying to get back at them, or they are passive or being difficult. Lazy is the term most spouses use to describe their spouse who is depressed. Because depression makes it difficult to do most of our day to day tasks. Depressed spouses are often crippled by depression, because they lack motivation, even if they know what they should do.
If your spouse is depressed you need to know:
- Being critical and judgmental makes it harder for your spouse to recover.
- 50-70% of all mothers suffer from postpartum depression.
- Depression disrupts sleep and sexually desire.
- Conflict is often caused by depression.
- People who are depressed have a hard time expressing their needs. They also have a hard time accepting anything from the other partner.
Getting Help for Depression: Remember Depression is Common and Treatable.
- Warm bath - Warm water will help with depression.
- Physical activity - you need to get moving, go to the gym. Walking with your spouse or a friend.
- Journaling - writing down on paper what it is that is bothering you and then making a plan to address it will help with depression.
- You need to find ways of connecting with your spouse around physical activity without there being any controlling or demanding behaviors. Let the depressed spouse decide if they want to walk with you.
- Getting a pet - people who are depressed connect better with animals than people.
- Accepting appreciation and giving appreciation back to your spouse. This can be hard so you need to practice small things often. Express appreciation after appreciation, at least one time a day for the first week, 2nd week twice a day, 3rd week 3x a day.
- Check in sessions - Ask how each other's day went and discuss the events. Don't judge, it won't help.
- Depressed spouse doesn't feel like they are entitled to having any dreams. Depressed people often don't like to voice their dreams because they feel like they don't deserve any. Encourage your spouse to have dreams and follow them.
- Need to have fun together. Do things that you both once enjoyed or find new things to do together.
- Need to get around friends and family who are supportive and connect with them. Getting around anyone will help too! You can't be isolated it just adds to the depression.
- Set priorities and simplify tasks to reduce stress, and make time for activities you enjoy.
- Get about eight hours of sleep a night. If you go 30 days without 8 hours every night that could trigger major depression.
- Eat more healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Take Vitamin D, when you notice you're feeling down because of the weather or lack of sunlight.
- Get Professional Help. It is very common and treatable, don't just rely on medications.
Male depression signs and symptoms
Depression signs and symptoms can differ in men and women. Men also tend to use different coping skills - both healthy and unhealthy - than women. It isn't clear why men and women may experience depression differently. It likely involves a number of factors, including brain chemicals, hormones and life experiences.
Like women, men with depression may feel blue or may not get pleasure from activities they once enjoyed.
But a few other things commonly show up in men that may not be recognized as depression signs and symptoms:
- Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
- Inappropriate anger
- Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
- Infidelity or unhealthy sexual relationships
Female Depression Signs and Symptoms
Although depression might seem overwhelming, there's effective treatment. Even severe depression often can be successfully treated. Seek help if you have any signs and symptoms of depression, such as:
- Ongoing feelings of sadness, guilt or hopelessness
- Feeling unattractive, when other people affirm you are attractive
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Significant changes in your sleep pattern, such as falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
- Fatigue, or unexplained pain or other physical symptoms without an apparent cause
- Changes in appetite leading to significant weight loss or weight gain
- Feeling as though life isn't worth living, or having thoughts of suicide