Depression affects millions of adults every year, with over 15 million adults reporting at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime. When depression has you feeling anxious or insecure, when you stop having the drive to take care of yourself, and when it becomes hard to express your feelings (or when you feel you have too many feelings) your symptoms can have serious consequences on your marriage. If you feel that you may be dealing with depression, or you think that your partner may be, here are the steps that you can take to recover.
Allow your partner to help you.
When depression rears its ugly head, conversations can become stilted and surface-level. You may feel that you and your partner don’t communicate the way that you used to. The first step for recovery is to open the lines of communication, no matter how stressful. If you believe that you are experiencing depression, having a real conversation about how you’re feeling can be extremely therapeutic. Saying something as simple as, “I don’t feel well and want to talk about how it may be affecting our relationship,” can get the ball rolling. If you are trying to start a dialogue with a depressed partner, you can make yourself available by inviting them to talk about the support that they need without demanding that they open up right away.
Don’t be afraid to set up healthy boundaries.
Depression is draining, both for individuals who are affected and for those around them. It’s fantastic for couples to support each other, but it can be easy for the health partner to feel that they should “fix” their partner, or for partners to become unhealthily codependent. Patients experiencing depression should be encouraged to talk to other friends and family, to spend time outdoors, to journal, and to take small steps toward recovery. Likewise, healthy partners should know that they can spend time away from their partner to recharge. They also should not stay in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, even if their partner is depressed and in need of help.
Seek professional help together.
Family or marriage counseling can be a great way for you and your partner to understand the ways in which depression may be affecting your relationship. While individual counseling is an excellent option for those experiencing depression, couples counseling addresses the dynamics of your relationship and allows each of you to discuss steps to grow together. Studies show that time spent in couples therapy is helpful: 98% of couples that go through marriage and family therapy find it helpful, and 97% reported receiving the help they needed.
Depression is difficult, not just for affected patients, but for their friends and family as well. If you believe that you are experiencing depression, don’t be afraid to reach out to a licensed therapist or counselor in your area.