Also known as major depressive disorder, depression is a serious mental illness that negatively impacts the way a person feels, thinks, and acts.
You can also describe depression as a consistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest which can stop you from doing your daily activities. Usually, depression occurs as a result of multiple factors. Whether it’s a result of family history, a chemical imbalance in the brain, trauma, or other factors, this mental disorder can occur in anyone. Additionally, because this condition affects a person’s mood and behavior, it can be noticeable in a spouse. If you believe that’s the case for your partner, our Pompano treatment center is sharing some tips on how to help a depressed spouse that will equip you to manage their condition and your relationship.
Signs Your Partner Has Depression
Although it’s normal to feel sad, moody, or down from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely and for long periods, often without a specific reason. Occasional sadness and depression are entirely different. While one is average, the other is a mental disorder that can disrupt a person’s life. Depression makes it more difficult to manage everyday responsibilities and interferes with work, school, and relationships.
Some signs that your partner is depressed include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Changes in appetite causing extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities or things they once enjoyed doing
- Loss of energy or frequently feeling fatigued
- Increased purposeless activity, like pacing often or wringing their hands
- Slowed movements or speech
- Feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, or guilt
- Withdrawing from close friends and family
- Substance abuse
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (can affect their performance at school or work)
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Additionally, a person with depression may often blame themselves for anything that goes wrong or may consider themselves a failure. They may express that nothing good ever happens to them or that they feel as if life isn’t worth living. Physically, they may feel sick or run down all the time. They may struggle with stomach problems or have trouble sleeping. If any of these symptoms occur for two weeks or longer, then your spouse may have depression.
But that’s not all. There’s also a condition referred to as high-functioning depression, which is marked by depression symptoms that aren’t severe enough to impair a person’s ability to hold down a job, perform well at school, socialize, or manage healthy relationships, among other potential areas of dysfunction. When dealing with a depressed spouse, this distinction can be slightly confusing. However, the symptoms of high-functioning depression are the same as those of depression, just less severe. If you recognize any of these symptoms in your husband or wife, our mental health program at Banyan Treatment Centers Pompano offers counseling and therapy with our trained professionals to help patients learn how to manage their symptoms while transitioning back to their daily routines.
How to Support a Depressed Spouse
Maybe you’re trying to encourage your partner to receive mental health treatment, or maybe you want to learn how to help your partner through depression. Whether they have or haven’t received care for their condition, as a loved one, your support plays a significant role in their recovery. Especially as a spouse, it’s important to understand their condition and symptoms. Now that we’ve discussed some typical symptoms of depression, below are some important tips on how to help a depressed spouse that you can implement to show your loved one that you’re there for them.
Helping a spouse deal with depression can be extremely difficult if they’re in denial about their problem or refuse to seek mental health treatment. Many people with depression and other mental disorders don’t want to be “fixed” and may just want to be heard. But sometimes, in the process of hearing them out or trying to help them, the things they say may be too painful for you to handle. And that’s okay. You’re not their therapist. However, if things get to this point, encourage your spouse to get help.
Create a Supportive Environment at Home
Another important way you can support your spouse through their depression is by creating a supportive home environment. Lifestyle changes can make a huge difference, especially if the person is in treatment. It’s important to remember that depression affects a person both mentally and physically, zapping their energy and making it difficult for them to make healthy choices. Some ways you can create a supportive environment include:
- Plan and cook healthy meals together to encourage healthier food choices.
- Exercise together. This can boost their mood and mental health, plus it can keep you both healthy.
- Be involved in your partner’s treatment as much as you can. This includes driving them to their appointments or sitting in the waiting room.
- Create routines with them to prevent stress.
- Make plans together to do things you both love.
- Give positive reinforcement by pointing out their strengths and areas where you’ve seen improvement.
Know the Signs of Suicide
This is a heartbreaking situation that you’d never want to think about, and we get it. But depression is a serious mental health condition, and unfortunately, the risk of suicide is always increased in people with major depression. However, by learning what these signs are, you can prevent a tragedy and be there for your partner.
Some common signs of suicide to look out for include:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill themself
- Looking for ways to kill themself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or as if they have no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in pain
- Describing themselves as a burden to others
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawing from others or feeling isolated
- Displaying extreme mood swings
Additionally, people with depression often turn to drug or alcohol use to self-medicate. However, this only adds to their distress. Not only can substance abuse worsen any chemical imbalances that contribute to their depression, but it can also result in a co-occurring disorder. If that’s the case with your spouse, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment at Banyan Pompano that incorporates mental health and addiction treatment.
Remind Them That You’re a Team
Another important aspect of helping a partner with depression is to remind them that they aren’t alone. Oftentimes, people with depression may feel isolated or burdensome, which is why it’s important to not only remind your partner that you’re a team but to show them as well. Express things like, “We’re in this together. You’re not going to scare me away. You won’t push me away.” Even after 20 years of marriage, these are all things they may worry about. From mood swings to simple disinterest, depression can take a serious toll on a marriage. But marriage itself is a team sport, so it’s important to always stick with your partner and remind them that you’ll always be there for the team.
In the midst of caring for a husband or wife with depression, you may forget to take care of yourself. This can damage your mental health, making it more difficult to help your partner and potentially adding stress to an already stressful situation. To avoid this, take some time out of your day or week for yourself without feeling guilty. Do something you enjoy that will help you recharge mentally and physically.
Spend Quality Time With Them
Sometimes, the best way to love and support someone is to just spend time with them. Although depression can affect your marriage, you shouldn’t let it consume your marriage. It can be easy to always talk about your wife or husband's depression to the point where that’s all you talk about. There are so many other aspects of your relationship that you have to cater to, including quality time and intimacy. Whether it’s going on a romantic date or watching your favorite movies, carve out some time where you two can just enjoy each other’s company.
Whether you’re helping a parent, spouse, or friend with depression, the best thing you can do for them is to encourage them to receive treatment. In conjunction with your support, mental health treatment can assist people with depression in overcoming their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.