Do You Love Someone Who Suffers From Depression?
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Title: DO YOU LOVE SOMEONE WHO SUFFERS FROM DEPRESSION? Author:
Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW Email:
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: by Dave
Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW Web Address:
http://www.Overcoming-Depression.com Word Count: 978 Category:
DEPRESSION - FAMILY - HOME LIFE
DO YOU LOVE SOMEONE WHO SUFFERS FROM DEPRESSION?
Relationships in which one individual is depressed are nine
times more likely to divorce. Wow, the normal divorce rate is
already over 60% nationally! But, it's not always a spouse who
is depressed, sometimes it is a child or an extended family
In this article, however, we'll be focusing on depressed
partners. Most people agree that marriage should be 50/50. We
all know this is an ideal, and, with the ebb-and-flow of
marriage, the percentages slide up and down but should do so in
both directions. For instance, one week the wife gives 70% and
the husband 30% and another week the husband give 80% and the
wife 20%. This is the way "ideal" marriages work.
Unfortunately, this is not the case when chronic depression
enters the marriage. Let's say that the husband has chronic
depression. The wife may pick up many of the tasks that would
customarily fall to the husband. Depending on how long this goes
on, an avalanche of negative momentum begins.
The longer this process goes on, the more the wife begins to
feel resentful, hence, there is less compassion for the one
struggling with depression. Yet, for the wife, it's like being a
single mother while married. I've been told by many spouses that
it would be easier to be a single parent than to live with a
spouse struggling with depression, because it's like having a
special-needs child in addition to all the other
I do not make any of these remarks to assign blame or heighten
anyones sense of being victimized. It's very important to
understand that EVERYONE suffers when depression attacks a loved
one. Blame only functions to create animosity and distance
between two loved ones.
Sometimes the spouse of a depressed partner becomes depressed as
a result of living within a "depressed lifestyle" for too long.
Depression is said to be contagious and can become a shroud over
the spouse or family. It's also vital to consider that
depression may not only be genetic, but it can also be taught.
You heard me right. For instance, our children's most powerful
classroom is the home. Both "Nature and Nurture" contribute to
Depression works its way into your moods, attitudes, behaviors,
tone of voice, posture, life outlook, personal hygiene, work
ethic, spiritual beliefs and so on. If you live in a "depression
atmosphere" you are constantly modeling and teaching how to be
depressed. I hope this serves as inspiration for change, not
shame. Shame only feeds the power of depression.
The first step in a plan of action is to know that it is
actually depression that you're dealing with. I won't go into
those details here. You can find those answers at the website
listed in my biography below.
Naming and accepting the problem is half the battle, for BOTH
spouses. Why? Well, when folks are depressed, there is no
obvious scientific evidence to prove it. And yet people have an
instinctive need to what is causing such pain. The depressed
person may project their negative feelings onto those closest to
them, i.e. a spouse, a boss, the children, the neighbors etc. If
you're married to a depressed person, at times you may question
your own sanity.
You might blame external sources for your spouse's suffering.
Without understanding, you might attack your spouse, assuming
they do not care or are lazy. What appears to be marital
problems, may, in fact, be depression. But certainly marital
problems can develop over time when depression goes untreated.
Another important fact to point out is that men and women
experience depression differently and each will respond
differently when their spouse is depressed. This requires two
separate articles just to begin to respectively cover gender
issues involved in depression.
Here's what to do. First and foremost, realize that depression
is the foe, not your spouse. Developing a "we" instead of an "I"
approach to depression treatment is vital. A good recovery motto
might be best summed up from the cartoon, Bob the Builder: "Can
WE do it? Yes WE can!"
Do everything you can to learn about depression. Seek
professional advice. If depression has been present for a long
time, both the relationship and the depression will require
Have individual and marital recovery plans. It's the surest way
to give depression the one-two punch that can knock it out of
your lives. Write your recovery plans down and spend time
reviewing, modifying and noting progress made.
Once depression is stabilized, create a list of "red flag"
symptoms. This serves as your safety net. If these symptoms
recur it would indicate that prompt attention is required. Then
list solutions you each are willing to act on if you notice
symptoms reappearing. Commit to this in writing and each of you
Create external support systems. Note that I did not say
external griping sessions. There's a major difference between
griping and purging. The former only feeds righteous resentment,
and deepens the depression problem overall, and the latter helps
clean you out.
Support pillars can be comprised of friends, colleagues,
churches, support groups and any place you decide is safe to
disclose to. Do not hide your dirty laundry in the closet,
so-to-speak. Depression loves to isolate individuals, marriages
and entire families. It's one of the primary ways it grows
Do recovery activities together. Attend therapy or psychiatry
sessions together. Participate in online counseling together.
Read a depression recovery book together. Exercise together,
pray together or keep a mood log together. If your children are
at the appropriate age, educate them about chronic depression.
There are good childrens books on chronic parent illness.
Most importantly, develop the "WE!" It's you and your spouse
against this powerful depression foe. Together you can do this!
Best recovery wishes and always let me know if I can be of any