How to Help Your Spouse Manage High-Functioning Depression: Why Residential Treatment May Be The Best Option

High-functioning depression may not seem as disabling as major depression but this chronic mental illness can take its toll on your spouse and affect your whole family. Seeking professional help, and learning more about this mental health disorder are some of the best ways you can help your spouse with depression. Residential treatment may be the best place for your loved one to learn to manage their depression while providing help and support for you too.

Depression is a chronic mental illness that has no cure, fortunately, it can be managed with the right treatment and a commitment to ongoing care. Someone with high-functioning depression, also known as persistent depressive disorder (PDD), may seem to be functioning within reason, but they are struggling deep down every day. The symptoms of high-functioning depression can last for years and keep individuals from reaching their full potential in all areas of life—home, work, or social. Long term sufferers of high-functioning depression can have difficulty in maintaining or creating lasting relationships, may endure chronic pain, become susceptible to substance abuse and addiction, or develop major depression.

On the outside, a person may seem fine, but on the inside, they are feeling extremely low, empty, and unmotivated. They are able to act as if nothing is wrong but they are constantly drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually by the burdens of normal everyday life.

My wife, Mary, didn’t seem right, it had been years since I had seen her light-hearted self laughing and enjoying life. I wasn’t sure if she was just unhappy? Maybe it was me? Maybe the kids and I had become a burden on her. I didn’t know what to do. It was a chore to get her out of the house but when we were out with friends she would put a fun, loving act on. But when we were home alone, she was so different, irritable and always sleeping. Mary seemed to be floating by life, uninterested in doing things she once loved.

I was sick of walking on eggshells and missed the woman I fell in love with. So I did my own research on how to help, my wife needed a proper diagnosis from a professional mental health clinician. I approached my wife from a supportive and loving standpoint and she agreed to receive a diagnosis. She refused to believe she was suffering from depression. It was a wake-up call and she knew treatment was needed.

Approaching Your Spouse with High-Functioning Depression


If your spouse thinks they are managing just fine but you can see they are slowly spiraling out of control there are things you can do to help in approaching the idea of a mental health evaluation.

  • Listen to your spouse. Listen with an open heart and open ears, and give credit to their feelings even if you don’t understand them. Sometimes just listening without trying to fix things is more helpful.
  • Don’t take it personally. Their mood may be negative, irritating, or upsetting but don’t take it personally.
  • Stick by them. Offer to find help with them, take a therapy session with them so they know you are ready to support them through it all.
  • Do fun things with them. Activities that your spouse once loved may seem like a far fetched idea, offer to do those activities with them. Finding joy together again can help your relationship grow stronger.
  • Take care of yourself. You need to be supported and healthy yourself, so make sure you take care of your own self-care so you are able to fully support your spouse.

How to Manage Depression


The first step in managing a mental health disorder is to truly understand the illness. Understanding the symptoms and agreeing to treatment will help you or your loved one find the road to recovery. In order to manage high-functioning depression, a tailored treatment plan is necessary to address all unique symptoms an individual has. During treatment, you can take a break from everyday life, focus on healing and understanding the causes of your depression. To help your spouse keep their depression at bay encourage ongoing care and regular therapy after active treatment has stopped.

Treating High-Functioning Depression


A combination of medication and psychotherapy are the keys to treating major depression. Treatment will help you or your loved one manage their symptoms to improve mood, daily functioning, and reduce symptoms. In addition, alternative and holistic therapies can support someone going through depression treatment. Mediation, yoga, massage therapy, and art therapy are all techniques used to promote mindfulness and help with stress management.

Exercise is an excellent way of helping someone naturally combat the symptoms of depression. A good treatment program will include exercise and weekly guidance and support from a physical trainer.

Try to be patient with your loved one as they go through treatment for depression. The process may take longer than expected, it is important for you to also seek help in understanding this mental illness and how you can help prevent it from recurring later in life. Many treatment facilities also offer some form of family programming to help the family members of the patients. This programming can help you understand the illness, know the triggers, and the steps to prevent the symptoms from resurfacing.

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Residential Treatment for Depression Recovery


Your support and care can be an invaluable source of help for your spouse but you alone cannot help them recover from their mental illness. To recover from depression, professional help is necessary for long term success.

A good treatment program for someone with depression will provide a customized plan tailored to their unique, individual needs. This should include a complete screening for any underlying mental health issues or substance use disorders.

Inpatient treatment centers for depression may be the best option for your loved one. While in residential treatment they will be able to focus solely on recovery with no distractions from everyday life. Treatment typically lasts two to three months, during this period patients learn to understand their mental illness and the steps and tools necessary to learn to manage and live with this chronic condition. Residential treatment has many benefits in treating depression such as:

  • A customized treatment plan
  • Care 24 hours a day
  • A variety of therapies including individual, group, and family
  • Addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders or substance use disorders
  • A safe and secure environment designed for recovery
  • Education and training for families on how to support their loved ones
  • Help with exercise and nutrition
  • Alternative and holistic therapies like meditation and art therapy
  • Support and planning for care after active treatment has stopped

Receiving the best care possible is what will help your spouse learn to manage depression symptoms and live a happier, healthier life. Mary is able to look back and see just how necessary treatment was, but without the guidance, support, and love from her husband, she may not have received the treatment she needed.


Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.