Depression Is Destroying My Marriage
Depression is a devastating mental illness for the individuals struggling with it, but it can also wreck personal relationships. It’s not easy to understand a spouse who has depression. For both people in the marriage, depression is a barrier to healthy intimacy. If left unaddressed, this can ruin the relationship. Treatment for the individual with depression, relationship counseling, and open communication are essential for managing depression in a marriage.
This is not a unique problem.
Many people struggle with mental health, and it impacts every area of their lives, including relationships. If you have depression, it is a very real possibility that your mental illness will damage or even ruin your marriage.
But that doesn’t have to be the outcome. Get treatment for depression, be aware of how it affects your spouse, and strengthen your relationship.
These steps can prevent depression from destroying your marriage and even repair the relationship if the damage is already done.
Signs Your Depression is Affecting Your Relationship
When you live with depression, it’s difficult to see beyond your own mood. You may not realize, until it’s too late, that your mood is damaging your relationship with your spouse. These people have been through that experience and can highlight the warning signs:
“I Didn’t Know I Was Depressed.” Sarah K.
It’s impossible to not let depression wreck your marriage if you don’t even know you’re depressed. That’s what happened to me. I had started to feel like my life was not my own, that my husband had made all the decisions and I was stuck with it. I got angry. I picked fights with him. I cried myself to sleep and then refused to get out of bed in the morning.
When he suggested we go to marriage counseling, I agreed but got a big surprise: All my anger, said the therapist, was really depression. The diagnosis was a shock, but getting treatment was the best choice. I worked on myself, and then we worked on our marriage together.
“I Lost Interest in My Marriage.” Melissa P.
My depressive episodes have always left me feeling unengaged and uninterested. I stop enjoying running, a passion of mine. I didn’t want to hang out with my friends or play with my kids. What I failed to recognize until it was too late was that this apathy was killing my husband.
I lost total interest in our relationship every time I went through a depression. I didn’t want to spend time with him, have sex, or even have a conversation. I became completely wrapped up in myself. What I eventually learned in a relationship session during my treatment was that I needed to help my husband understand that it wasn’t personal. I felt disengaged from everything and everyone.
“I Had an Affair to Try to Feel Something.” Justin M.
I nearly ruined my marriage because of an affair I had about five years in. I had been taking an antidepressant that didn’t really help. It left me completely emotionless. A woman at work who had been flirty with me for years finally suggested we meet up one night after work. I did it, and then I had an affair that lasted months.
It was a terrible thing to do, and I nearly lost my marriage, but the affair finally jolted me out of my apathy. I felt awful about what I was doing. I saw my doctor and she suggested trying a treatment facility and a new medication. It saved our marriage.
These personal stories highlight what depression can do to a marriage. Loss of interest, destructive behaviors, and anger and resentment can all be signs that depression is having an effect. Other signs include loss of interest in intimacy, anger and acting out, anxiety, and hopelessness about the state of your relationship. These are important signs, but what can you do about them?
Open the Lines of Communication
Mental illness thrives in silence. It’s tempting to brush it under the rug, but you must talk about it. Communication in a relationship is important because it allows each person to express what they feel and what they need from the other person. It builds trust too.
When it comes to depression, being open is difficult—there is still so much stigma. But when you don’t discuss it, the problem only grows and expands. Misunderstandings accumulate and more damage gets done. Talk about your experiences with each other and make a plan for how to strengthen your relationship.
Getting Help for Your Depression Is Essential
Once you have begun talking about your or your spouse’s depression, the next big step is to get depression treatment. Depression is a real medical condition. It requires treatment or it will persist. If you can, consider getting treatment in a residential facility.
A longer-term treatment will allow you to truly focus on healing and managing symptoms. While it may seem detrimental to the marriage to leave for a month or two, it’s really the best thing you can do for your relationship. You cannot fix your marriage until you address and control your mental illness.
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Get Involved in Treatment
When one spouse goes for treatment for depression, they are on a personal journey of healing and wellness, but they’re not alone. Depression impacts both partners in the relationship, which means both should be involved in treatment.
You can be involved in your spouse’s treatment in several ways. Most facilities have family days and visiting times. And many involve families in the treatment itself. Attend relationship therapy so that you can rebuild your marriage together as your spouse heals from depression.
Make Healing an Ongoing Practice
Depression is a chronic illness. It will never truly go away. Your spouse may have fewer episodes and less severe symptoms, but they still have depression. Their stay at a mental health center may be complete, but the journey is ongoing.
When your partner comes home from a treatment program, make plans for ongoing care. This may include individual therapy sessions, antidepressants, and marriage counseling. Do what works for your marriage, but make treatment for depression a constant. You may need to ramp it up at times or ease back, depending on how the course of the illness goes.
Work on Self-Care Together
Maintaining good mental health is important for everyone, not just people with diagnosed mental illness. Self-care and healthy lifestyle choices are good for overall wellness and something you and your spouse can share.
Your partner will learn healthy habits in treatment, and together you can apply these to your daily lives. Take up an exercise routine you can both do, for instance. Or, make a commitment to meditate every day. Make healthy meals together, and if it applies to you, cut back on alcohol and find healthier alternatives to unwind and relax.
Depression doesn’t have to destroy your marriage. It is a chronic mental illness, and you can learn to live well with it. Whether you or your spouse is experiencing depression, without treatment and talking about it, your relationship will suffer or even fail. Get a diagnosis, get treatment, carry on with counseling, and take steps to make healthier lifestyle choices together. Above all, be open and talk to each other about what you feel and need in the marriage.
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