How to Deal with a Spouse with Severe Depression

Depression can hit a family suddenly. Oftentimes, you might not recognize it for what it is. All you notice is the symptoms – withdrawal from family activities, constant moodiness, and a variety of other strange behaviors.

Depression can make someone into a different person, which can take a heavy toll on your family. You want things to be as normal as possible for your and your kids, and that requires some patience and other tactics to handle the situation.

Understand Depression and Its Symptoms

If you want to see your relationship whole again, you must first understand what depression is and how its symptoms influence your relationship.

At its most basic form, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that reduces the level of chemicals that cause feelings of pleasure or happiness. Everyone will react a little differently to the illness, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Reduced interest in activities
  • Low energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Irritability
  • Inability to feel happiness

If you notice your spouse dealing with any of these unusual symptoms, it could be a sign of depression.

It’s important for you to recognize that this is not an attack on you or the kids. The mental illness is the enemy, not your spouse. It will take patience and love to work through the difficulties and bring back some of the normalcy you once felt, although it may never be the same.

Get Help

You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – go through this alone. Strongly encourage your spouse to get professional help, be it medication or therapy help. There are a number of options to choose from depending on the severity of the illness and the impact on your family.

You might also consider a professional depression treatment program. It can often take intensive therapy to overcome the issue. Substance abuse and depression can also often go hand in hand, and it’s important to use the right program to get you and your spouse through it.

Be Your Spouse’s Partner

Remember that the enemy is the depression, not your spouse. Things will be different because of the emotional and psychological effects of the illness, but you should try to keep things as normal as possible in your marriage.

Actively work to help your spouse improve. Spend time together, and discuss important parenting and marriage decisions together. Work with your spouse with therapists or medication. Be there for your spouse, and you’ll have a much easier time handling the road ahead.

Depression in family matters isn’t easy, but handling the situation up front is the best option. Understand what this illness is and how it can affect your relationship. As you come to terms with depression and work in harmony with your spouse, you can achieve health and happiness for your family despite a mental illness.  

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