Have you or your partner been struggling with depression? Are you concerned your relationship may be suffering? Depression is a common disorder in the USA and around the world. A recent study in the United States found over 16 million Americans experienced at least one depressive episode during the year 2016. Depression happens to men and women as well as children, teens, and adults. Given the widespread occurrence of depression, we need to also consider how depression affects your marriage.
What is depression?
Depression is more than a transient low mood brought on by a difficult day, or even a few emotionally challenging days. Depression is a persistent sadness, and often irritability, that creates substantial changes in a person’s life experience. Depression can range from mild to severe. On the milder end of the spectrum, depression can sap the joy out of living, and alter perceptions in a way that causes the sufferer to view much of life in a negative light. It can cause irritability and overreactions to small stressors. As the illness worsens, depression can cause a serious reduction in functioning. At its worst, depression can progress to the point of suicidal thoughts and ideation. There are several signs of depression. Some of them include:
- Constantly feeling tired and easily fatigued
- Feeling hopeless about your life and your future
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling empty and worthless
- Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- Loss of motivation and energy to take care of yourself and others
- Suicidal thoughts or ideation
How does depression affect your marriage?
If allowed to continue, depression changes how you view yourself and the world. People who have been married or in close relationships with someone who suffers from depression say that it changes their behavior and personality. They seem like a different person. In couples where one or both partners are depressed, research shows marital conflict is more likely. When depression alters perception and causes a negative viewpoint, there is more opportunity for conflict. A depressed spouse may say hurtful things, respond irritably in conversation, or simply ignore their spouse.
Over time the relationship begins to deteriorate and unfortunately, in some cases, depression can increase the likelihood of divorce. Experts say it’s not the depression itself that leads to divorce; it’s the consequences. Changes in behavior and withdrawing from the relationship over time can cause lasting and serious damage. It is important to get help and treat depression. Not just for the one who is ill, but for both partners in the relationship.
Therapy in Brooklyn, New York
If you or your partner is depressed, it is important to understand depression is among the most treatable of disorders. There is no need to allow the suffering to continue. Treatment for depression can bring a real, positive turn-around and get you and your relationship to a happier and healthier place. Depending on the context and situation, individual and/or couples counseling can help.