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The Secret to Overcoming Depression in Marriage

Updated: May 25, 2022

Have you ever felt guilty that your depression is affecting your marriage? Does it feel like depression is the third wheel in your relationship, coming between you and your spouse? It's hard enough to navigate through the pain of depression as an individual. But when you're experiencing depression in marriage, you may feel like you're dragging your partner down with you.

Your partner vowed to stick with you in sickness and in health, and thankfully, overcoming depression can actually be easier when you have the love of your life by your side.

Understanding Depression

It's normal to experience highs and lows, but if your lows don't subside after a short time, it could be a sign of depression. However, it's important to distinguish between "the blues," or situational depression, and clinical depression.

Situational depression

Situational depression is depression that is primarily caused by life events. Sometimes the gravity of a particular scenario can become mentally and physically overwhelming, manifesting itself as depression. Events that may trigger situational depression include:

  • Problems or dissatisfaction at work or school

  • Illness or injury

  • Death of a loved one

  • Moving

  • Relationship problems

  • Financial stress

You might not even realize that you're suffering from situational depression. It's common to talk about situational depression in euphemistic terms such as "feeling mopey" or "being down." Conversely, you may confuse your situational depression for clinical depression if the problems in your life go unresolved.

Situational depression will typically alleviate as you adjust or make positive changes. A licensed therapist can help you navigate those changes to overcome your depression. They'll also help you understand if your low mood may be due to clinical depression.

Clinical depression

Clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is depression that is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. This chemical imbalance can occur for many reasons, including genetics, lifestyle factors, or giving birth. Symptoms of clinical depression include:

  • Persistent low mood

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Loss of motivation and interest in enjoyable activities

  • Lack of energy

  • Problems sleeping

  • Low sex drive

Clinical depression must be diagnosed by a medical professional. There are various treatment options available, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle improvements. But the first step is always to talk about how you feel - especially if it's affecting your relationship.

How Does Depression Affect Marriages and Relationships?

Even in the best of times, a relationship takes work. Everyone has certain vulnerabilities and tendencies that can cause friction in a relationship. If you're living with depression in marriage, your mental health can intrude upon your relationship in several different ways.

Feelings of guilt

You might feel immense guilt, as if your depression is "rubbing off" on your partner. Unfortunately, that guilt may compound the feelings of worthlessness that often accompany depression.

Lack of communication

It's common for those living with depression to have difficulty talking about their mental illness due to guilt, social stigma, or simply not having the language to express themselves.

Your partner might not understand how you're feeling and may interpret the lack of communication as evasiveness. Or they might feel confused and need guidance on how to connect with you when you're in a depressive state.

Lack of physical Intimacy

When you're depressed, your sex drive might be one of the first things to go. A lack of physical intimacy can negatively affect your partner and exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

Loss of interest in activities

One of the main symptoms of depression is a waning interest in things that you once found joyful. Whereas before, you might have looked forward to going on dates and spending time with your partner, depression can kill your motivation to get out of the house and experience the world together.

Feelings of loneliness and detachment

Loneliness is a common symptom of depression. You may feel utterly detached from the people around you – even those you hold dearest. Your partner may feel helpless in their inability to connect with you.

How to Cope With Depression in Your Marriage

The good news is that having a partner by your side while you work to overcome depression can not only help you get back to normal – it can ultimately strengthen your relationship.

Love is a powerful weapon against depression. While love can't magically cure mental illness, it can certainly help partners stay strong along the way.

1. Seek diagnosis and treatment.

If your depression doesn't improve after two weeks, make an appointment with a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist will speak with you about your symptoms and work with you to develop a treatment plan so you can start healing.

2. Keep the lines of communication open.

It can be hard to talk about your feelings, especially when you're depressed. But the worst thing you can do is shut down emotionally. Instead, tell your partner what you're going through and let them know what you need from them.

Check in with them each day about how you're feeling. It will help stave off feelings of loneliness and help you and your partner work as a team to overcome your depression.

3. Practice good mental hygiene together.

Mental hygiene refers to the daily and weekly routines that we keep to help maintain our mental health. Eating healthy meals, exercising, and socializing are all forms of mental hygiene. You and your partner can encourage each other to adopt better habits, and it can be an excellent bonding experience.

4. Educate yourselves about depression.

There's a lot to learn about depression and how to manage it. However, you and your partner might not feel quite so lost if you better understand how depression works.

5. Practice patience with yourself.

It's important to give yourself grace when experiencing a depressive episode. Be patient if it takes a bit longer to get out of bed in the morning. Ask your spouse for a little extra patience, too. It takes time to overcome depression.

6. See a marriage counselor.

A marriage counselor can help you and your spouse learn how to communicate better and overcome your mental illness as a team. While a marriage counselor can't treat you for your depression, they can help you learn how to cope with depression in your marriage.

Are You Ready to Overcome Depression in Your Marriage?

Depression in marriage is a common obstacle for many couples. Fortunately, you don't have to figure it out between you and your spouse - a licensed marriage counselor can help you. If you're ready to take the next step in learning how to cope with depression, book an appointment today with Great Lakes Counseling.

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