Spring 2013 Edition
Depression Increases Marital Dissatisfaction and Divorce
In relationships where one of the partners suffers from depression, the divorce rate is nine times higher
According to a study of married couples in the U.S., each marital partner's level of depression predicted their own marital satisfaction and that of their spouse as well. Depressed individuals expressed higher levels of dissatisfaction with their marriage and their spouses were more dissatisfied with the marriage, also. Untreated depression poses a very real threat to a marriage. Statistics show that in marriages where one of the partners suffers from depression, the divorce rate is nine times higher.
What to do when depression threatens your marriage or relationship
Living with a depressed spouse can leave you feeling unloved, confused, demoralized, angry and resentful. If depression is taking a heavy toll on you and the quality of your marriage, the suggestions below can help:
1. Learn about all aspects of depression. It is vital that both you and your partner learn all that you can about depression – its symptoms, what it is, what it isn't, what to expect and what treatment options are available. The more you know about depression, the better you can help your spouse, your marriage and yourself. It is very important to:
- Understand that depression is an illness. Your spouse did not “choose” to become depressed.
- Realize and accept that no one is to “blame” for the situation. People do not deserve to be depressed. And, despite what your spouse may say, you are not to blame either.
- Put yourself in your spouse's shoes. You will help your spouse recover faster and help lower your own frustration by learning as much as you can about what depression feels like from your spouse's point of view.
2. The depressed spouse must seek professional help for depression. It is important to recognize that before marital problems can be effectively dealt with, the depression needs to be treated first. Encourage your spouse to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. The first step is for him/her to see a doctor and ask to be examined for depression. Once a treatment program is prescribed, helping may involve monitoring whether your spouse is taking their prescribed medication, or encouraging him/her to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several weeks). Helpful: Develop a “we” approach instead of an “I” approach with your spouse toward depression treatment.
3. If your spouse balks about getting help. It is important that you get your partner to the doctor or mental health professional, even if you have to schedule the appointment or take off from work and accompany your partner to the appointment. If your spouse refuses to seek treatment, sometimes the parents or siblings of the depressed spouse, or a close friend or minister can help convince a depressed spouse to consult with his/her doctor or therapist.
4. Offer your spouse support and encouragement. Be there for your spouse. Give him/her a shoulder to cry on, or just listen while they vent their feelings. Be patient with them. Let them know you care. Share the things you've learned while researching depression. Remind your partner that their depression is not their fault and that they are not weak or worthless. Keep reassuring your spouse that with time and help, he or she will feel better.
5. Take care of yourself. Living with a depressed person can leave you feeling unloved, demoralized, resentful and exhausted. These feelings are a valid response to a very trying situation. Talk to a trusted friend, join a support group or seek individual counseling to vent your frustrations rather than allowing them to build. Don't allow your spouse's depression to completely overtake your life. Make time for yourself and continue to participate in things you enjoy doing. Periodically take some time to step back from the situation and recharge your batteries. If your partner refuses to seek help, consult with a therapist to get individualized recommendations and the help you need.
Your EAP Is Here To Help
If you suspect that you, your spouse or another family member may be suffering from depression, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you. EAP counselors are specially trained to help people get the right kind of help for depression. If you need help, why not call an EAP counselor today? We're here to help you.
- DEPRESSION FALLOUT: The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond, by Anne Sheffield. Discusses what typically happens to love relationships when depression enters the picture and offers sound advice on what non-depressed partners can do to weather the crisis and keep the relationship intact.
- www.WebMD.com - This website includes comprehensive and in-depth information about depression symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and related issues.
Symptom Checklist: How Do you know if you're Depressed?
There are many symptoms related to depression. Some of these include:
- Feelings of fatigue: no matter how much sleep you get, you still feel exhausted.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Sleep problems: awakening during the night with an inability to go back to sleep or difficulty falling asleep at night. Some depressed people also sleep a great deal more than usual.
- A change in eating patterns: for most depressed people this means a loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss. Some people, however, react to depression by compulsive overeating and rapid weight gain.
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, backaches, digestive problems, or chronic pain.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex.
- Restlessness, irritability.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions.
- Intensified self-criticism and diminished self-esteem.
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
NOTE: Professional help should definitely be sought if a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts.