“Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest."
Relationships can take a gigantic turn from sugary dreams into sour and sulky nightmares with time.
Mood swings and heightened emotions can mar spousal interactions.
It can also leave partners feeling confused, doomed, vulnerable and ultimately leading to emotional water boarding.
Especially when the relationship is lengthy and stretched there is a high chance of one person feeling isolated and detested.
Living with a depressed partner can torment you and eventually lead to a destruction of the trust and bond shared between you and your significant other.
For Asians in particular, mental health is a topic not openly discussed, with many not even understanding what depression means.
Health research clinic, Mayo explains: “Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
“Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.”
Depression results from alterations in brain chemistry that influences temperament, thought process, sleep, appetite and sexual desire.
So how can you support your spouse when they are depressed?
Understand the Situation of your Partner
Depression is not a flaw in one’s character but a shift in the chemistry of the brain. This means that it can happen to anyone.
It is very important to understand the situation of your partner.
“Depression makes you isolated. It’s very hard to think of other people when you’re wrapped in a prickly blanket of sadness and all you can think about is your own pain.”
It is likely that you may feel frustrated and upset when you are trying your best to keep your partner happy and the relationship strong.
Depressed spouses may become aggressive, arrogant and dominantly militant. They can pick arguments for anything and everything. Your social life and career may bring them exasperation, and they may often feel they are unloved or deceived.
A depressed person may sleep too much, or suffer from insomnia. They can often eat too much or skip meals.
They will care less about their body and may have difficulty in concentrating and they might stammer in conversations.
Educate yourself regarding depression and understand why your spouse is acting in a certain way.
Understanding the situation properly is the first step towards bringing them out of depression.
Be Supportive and Patient
Being patient is hard when you feel you are doing everything right and your spouse cannot realise it. Reinforce your partner with love, positivism and understanding.
Stop criticising and stop showing resentment over their behavior. Understand that they need help and support to overcome this hurdle.
“She says she’s fine but she’s going insane. She says she feels good but she’s in a lot of pain. She says it’s nothing but it’s really a lot. She says she’s okay. But really she’s not.”
Listening to your partner with an open and receptive heart is very crucial. But be careful not to force them to talk.
Take over the responsibilities of your spouse for a while and give them space to do whatever they like to do.
Assure them of your love and care regularly. Do things together which you used to do in the honeymoon phase of your relationship.
Let your spouse know that you will be there for him or her.
Break the Cycle
This cycle is a neverending vicious cycle. You must be brave enough to break the cycle.
If your partner gets angry or defensive and you feel confused or upset, do not speak a word.
“Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer.”
When your partner becomes insecure and start to scream at you, it is probable you might feel angry and scream back. And later you will feel guilty and offended.
You can do two things. Either you can go to him or her and give a comforting hug forgetting everything, or take some time on your own to calm yourself down.
Whenever your spouse starts an argument, deviate them by bringing up a beautiful memory from the past or suggesting something fun to do together.
The most important thing you can do for your depressed partner is to help them get a proper diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment.
The problem is depression, not your spouse. So you have to fight together to eliminate the disease, not fight against each other.
“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave.
“Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me.
“I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.”
Depression, just like common cold and diabetes, can be treated when sought medical and therapeutic help early.
In the field of mental health, cognitive therapy and psychodynamic therapy have proven to be very effective in treating depression. A trained therapist can identify and help a depressed spouse to a great extent.
Speak with your doctor and arrange a treatment plan designed exclusively tailored for the patient. In severe depression, medication will be necessary.
Treatment can be a combination of psychotherapy, medication and other alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
Mental health experts suggest that it is necessary to keep an eye on depression and its roots in a relationship, and to seek professional help as early as possible.
As the saying goes, ‘When life throws you a brick build a house’. If you don’t handle depression early, it can definitely ruin a beautiful relationship.