Spouse With Depression – Understanding Symptoms And Providing Help

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Kelly had no idea why negative thoughts constantly surrounded her, and nothing seemed to be going right with her. She was falling out of plans and seemed depressed way too often. She had bouts of anxiety which made her cry without a reason. Kelly was truly perplexed and confused and wanted a way around this!

If your spouse has been having similar feelings, remember that it can have a lasting impact not only on him but also on you. It affects your relationship in more ways than one. If you think your spouse is going through depression or has been diagnosed with such, MomJunction will help you understand how you can support your partner, as well as yourself.

What Is Depression?

While most people feel that depression is just another form of severe sadness, the truth is, it is a medical condition which requires attention. Depression is characterized by bouts of sadness and can also be accompanied with mild or severe irritability.

Depression happens to be one of the main causes of accidents or injuries, as well as conflicts within the family. When someone is suffering from depression, it can increase their chances of heart diseases, tendency to commit suicide, other mental and behavioral diseases such as anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and more. [1]

[ Read: How To Communicate With Your Spouse ]

Even before your partner is medically diagnosed with depression, here are some common signs of depression that you should take note of:

  • Feeling sad often with no apparent reason
  • Feeling hopeless and unworthy
  • A massive loss of self-worth and self-esteem
  • Difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Sleeping too much and still feeling sleepy all the time
  • Difficulty in eating, loss of appetite, and/or loss in taste
  • Eating a lot without feeling hungry
  • Feeling too tired to get out of bed or do anything
  • Constant feeling of exhaustion and feeling drained even after sleeping or resting
  • Lack of interest in activities which were enjoyable earlier
  • Sudden fluctuations in weight (where your partner may either gain a lot of weight over a small period, or lose a considerable amount of weight in a small period)
  • Feeling guilty for being sad and out of action
  • Being more active than usual, sometimes bordering on hyperactive
  • Being agitated all the time or at sudden times without any apparent reason
  • Having difficulty in concentrating on things or being unable to pay attention
  • Feeling that life is not worth living and ending it is better

Important – If your partner talks about self-harm or about others who may have tried to harm themselves in the past, or taken their life, you need to alert your nearby medical facility immediately and take your partner there as soon as you can.

How To Help Your Partner Through Depression:

If you suspect your wife or husband is depressed, or has been diagnosed with the condition, here are a few things you could do to help a depressed spouse:

1. Show your unconditional love:

When your partner is depressed, the one person who can make all the difference is you. When you show your unconditional love towards your partner, it will make him feel cared, and improve his feeling of self-worth. You do not have to go out of your way in telling your partner how much you love him, or that you believe in whatever you are doing, but drop subtle hints.

For instance, you could wake your partner up with hugs and kisses, hold hands when you are walking together or sitting somewhere, give a gentle squeeze on the shoulders or a quick neck massage to ease anxieties. Your partner may not return the gesture initially, but you should continue trying and not give up. He will eventually come around, accepting the love that you offer.

2. Show your unconditional support:

Depression can often make your partner feel unworthy and incapable of achievements. Your partner may hit rock bottom and eventually affect his professional capabilities. But if you show him that you trust him and believe that he can do well and achieve success, it will make a huge difference and boost his confidence.

With a lot of things going wrong, it is possible that your partner may mistake your support for pity and ask you to stop. It is during this time that your partner needs you the most, even though he may not realize it, which is why you should not give up on him. While others may not be supportive of your partner’s actions, your genuine care and support will make a difference, even though the results may seem distant.

[ Read: Depression in Marriage ]

3. Keep talking to your partner:

Communication will play a major role in your relationship. It will help you read his mind better and understand what he is going through. This would let you help him better. When you have an open communication with your partner, it will give him a safe space to share all worries and thoughts, and see your positive viewpoints.

While you shouldn’t seem like you are nagging at him, wait to ask him about his thoughts when he thinks he is happy or not depressed. You must make your partner feel comfortable so he can share anything and everything with you, without being judged. This would give him an outlet to share his worst moods and his most depressing thoughts.

4. Give space whenever he needs it:

Understanding when your partner may want to be alone can be tough. You must get into a habit of reading his body language, mood swings, and other signs to know when he wants to be left alone, and when he really wants you by his side. This could be confusing and time taking, but you would learn eventually.

When your depressed husband or wife asks you to leave, hold the hands softly and ask if he really wants to be left alone. Tell softly that you are willing to just sit and not talk, if that is alright. It will show your partner that you truly care, and if he wants you to actually have you around, he will tell you so. If he still asks you to leave him alone, respect his need and give him the space he needs.

[ Read: How To Be A Good Husband ]

5. Make a plan of action:

Depression brings in lethargy, and if your partner is lethargic all the time, it could be a cause for trouble in the long run. He may not want to get out of bed and do anything. You must understand that staying alone in bed, or not indulging in anything would only make him prey to more negative thoughts and he would be more depressed. This would keep pushing the cycle of bad events.

You should start a plan and make sure that he follows it often, if not regularly. When you form a daily plan of action for your partner and encourage him to follow it, he will have a purpose to work for and will get less time to brood and feel sad.

To help your partner combat this inactive and negative state, it is important that you help him make a plan. See when your partner is in a relatively better state of mind, and is not feeling too low or depressed.

Sit down with your partner and talk to him about a few things that you feel he should be looking into. It could be some simple home chores that you would like him to look after, such as paying the bill or getting the grocery on time. You could also talk about a class that both of you would be taking together and what you need him to do the same.

6. Work as a team against it:

When your spouse suffers from depression, you should remember that the problem is the illness and not your spouse. Just as you would help him get well through any other illness, you would have to help your partner through depression as well. Depression could take quite a while to sort, but you must work as a team to combat it.

Help your spouse remember when to take medicines, important doctor appointments, and try and go together for the same. You can form a list of questions that you may want to clarify with the doctor at the next visit. You can ask your partner if he is suffering from any particular issue that needs to be mentioned to the doctor.

7. Get involved in the treatment if required:

Depression has its sets of highs and lows. While some days your partner may seem happy and chirpy, other days he may be too irritated, sad, or may be crying over something unsubstantial.

This may affect your everyday routine, and you might not be able to work in a set pattern every day, do make sure that treatment continues. A medical practitioner is the best judge of when your partner can stop his medicines. Follow the routine thoroughly and do as advised by the doctor.

As the other partner in the relationship, you would have to add to the treatment as well. The doctor may suggest couple therapy, and make sure you attend these sessions along with your partner. They would equip you better and help you understand your partner and take care of his mood swings. You will also understand why your partner is behaving the way he is and how the medication or the therapy will help him.

How To Help Yourself When Your Spouse Is Depressed:

Seeing and living with a depressed spouse can trigger negativity in your relationship, and in you. While your partner will receive treatment and attention because of the depression, you too will go through your needs of love, support, and attention.

Depression is a mental illness that can often take a toll on the partner of the affected person. Unless you are in the best of your mental, physical, and emotional health, you will not be able to look after your partner as well as you want to. Here are some ways in which you can cope with the situation:

[ Read: Tips To Make Your Marriage Work ]

1. Do not blame yourself for it:

Often, people blame themselves for their spouses’ condition and think that they may have done something to trigger off a depression. Do remember that depression is a mental illness that is not caused by you or anything that you may have done. One of the most common reasons for depression is heredity or genetic disposition.

2. Seek support:

You would need immense support and help from people who are willing to care for you while you are supporting your partner with depression. Looking after your spouse can be very exhausting, time-consuming, and sometimes emotionally draining.

This is as good as taking care of an unhealthy or unwell family member. While you may think you can handle it all by yourself, the repercussions of doing so can take a toll on your health too. You may suffer from loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and irritability, and it can also lead to serious health issues. Do seek and take help from a family member or a friend.

3. Be less harsh on yourself:

There may be times when you would lose your cool and yell back or shout at your partner. While you must work towards not letting that happen, you must also understand that it is only humane and natural to react. The emotional and physical stress that you may be going through to take care of your partner with depression could get you irritated. Do not be harsh on yourself for having reacted. Instead, work towards not repeating it.

5. Take some time out:

Take breaks! If you think that you know someone who can look after your partner, someone you can rely on, leave your partner in their care and go for a relaxing spa session to rejuvenate yourself. If possible, take a week off and go out with your friends. Do not feel guilty about doing this, as you do need these breaks to be able to handle the requirements of caring full time for your partner.

[ Read: How To Keep Intimacy In Marriage ]

3 Books That Talk About Depression:

In addition to speaking to your partner’s therapist, here are a few books you can read to understand how to deal with a depressed spouse:

  1. Darkness Visible by William Styrom: The book is a memoir by the author and talks about his own battle with depression. It starts with a situation where the author is visiting to receive an award for his work, but suffers a mental breakdown instead. William talks about very real issues such as fighting suicidal thoughts, taking prescription drugs, receiving therapy, hospitalization and more.
  1. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel: In the book, the author talks about her ten-year long battle with depression after she was diagnosed when she was 11 years old. It talks about how she tried self-medication and got into substance abuse.
  1. Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen: The book tells the real-life story of the author who took 50 pills when she was 18 years old and was rushed to a medical facility, to be treated for 18 months for depression. It relates to her time in the hospital and how she coped with her depression.

Depression can or cannot be obvious. We hope you know how to spot spouse with depression and help him through it. It is a real medical condition which needs treatment.

Have you ever gone through depression? Have you ever been with someone who has suffered from depression? Do share your experiences and tips to help those who may benefit from them.

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