The Effect of Depression on Marriage
Depression is an insidious illness, and like any illness, it needs a diagnosis by the appropriate professional, as well as viable treatment options. Almost all of us will know someone who suffers from depression, if not be a sufferer ourselves. In the US, nearly 18.8 million people suffer from depression each year. That is a huge number, and yet, only 20% will seek treatment; this is a very unsettling statistic.
Depression influences every aspect of a person’s life, psychologically, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Everyone in a depressed person’s life can feel the effects of the illness. This holds true especially for spouses and partners of depressed individuals. The effects of depression on a marriage can be devastating if the afflicted does not seek treatment or work towards wellness.
Many symptoms of depression can signal a warning to a spouse or partner. The depressed person may have trouble concentrating, be easily irritated, and exhibit signs of sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and isolation. They may not be able to eat or eat too much, not be able to sleep or sleep too much, and have decreased sexual desire. Withdrawal from the spouse is also a symptom.
If you are the spouse of a depressed person, let him or her know that you are willing to take the time to go with them to the initial assessment, and to do whatever it takes to help. Often your gestures of support and love may be rebuffed, but do not take these things personally as it is not about you.
Sometimes, the spouse of a depressed person does not understand the signs and symptoms, and cannot understand why the depressed person cannot pull himself or herself out of it. This can cause feelings of anger and resentment in both partners, and does not help anyone.
Often denial or a sense of shame may keep the depressed individual from seeking help. It is important to let your spouse know that this illness should not be the cause of any shame, and that nobody will judge him or her for getting the right help.
Trying to give support can take its toll on the spouse of a depressed person, especially if that person refuses treatment. Make sure that you take care of yourself if you are in that position, and seek counselling for yourself. This will ensure your good mental health, and may help you better cope with the situation.
With depression, as with any illness, both partners need to be educated so each understands what the illness is, what it is not, and that treatment is usually successful. There is often a terrible stigma associated with depression, and feelings of shame must be worked on with a therapist or counsellor. Medication often goes hand in hand with therapy, and both partners need to be aware that this is necessary for wellness. The depressed person’s illness should always be the first priority, and marriage counselling should come next if it is required.
Depression need not signal the end of a marriage, if both partners stay proactive and work together to help treat the depression.