The strength and resilience of marriages and domestic partnerships are tested every day, and spouses and domestic partners work tirelessly to love, support, and care for one another in good times and bad. But, if one or both partners are coping with depression, each partner may have trouble enjoying a fulfilling relationship.
A Closer Look at the Impact of Depression on Spouses and Domestic Partners
Depression causes physical and emotional symptoms, and it can affect how people engage with one another, particularly in a marriage or domestic partnership.
People dealing with depression may experience body aches, headaches, and other forms of physical pain. They may also feel sad, hopeless, lonely, anxious, and stressed, and they can find it difficult to think or concentrate. In severe cases of depression, people may even experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others.
In a marriage or domestic partnership, each partner has an opportunity to love, support, and care for their counterpart. Yet, a marriage or domestic partnership requires hard work, patience, and persistence. If one or both partners experience depression symptoms, the relationship may quickly deteriorate for several reasons.
On its own, a marriage or domestic partnership may cause stress and anxiety, as each partner tries to fulfill the other’s needs. Thus, in a relationship, one partner may dedicate excessive time, resources, and energy to help their counterpart. This may seem beneficial since one partner is fully committed to helping their counterpart in any way possible. On the other hand, one partner may put their personal wellbeing at risk so that their partner can feel good.
If a marriage or domestic partnership lacks equality, one partner may feel physically and emotionally drained, especially if this partner goes above and beyond to support their counterpart. When this happens, the partner may be increasingly susceptible to depression, along with its associated physical and emotional symptoms.
There may be instances in which a marriage or domestic partnership causes a loss of connection to the outside world, too.
For example, if a spouse or domestic partner previously traveled extensively but has recently gotten married or settled into a domestic partnership with their counterpart, the partner may long for the past. This partner may also miss times spent with family members, friends, and others who were once mainstays in their life. In this instance, the partner may regret their marriage or domestic partnership, as well as feel trapped in their situation. As a result, the partner may experience depression, and blame their spouse or domestic partner for their situation — although their frustration, anger, and anxiety are misguided.
Finances can put a strain on a marriage or domestic partnership as well, and there several reasons why this may be the case.
If one partner earns more than the other, the former partner may feel like the primary breadwinner at home. This may lead the latter partner to feel ashamed. As such, the latter partner may be exceedingly susceptible to sadness and other depression symptoms.
Furthermore, there may be an instance when one partner loses their job. The loss of a job can be psychologically damaging; the partner who lost their job may feel inadequate, along with feel extreme pressure to find a new job as quickly as possible. As pressure to find a new job and overcome feelings of inadequacy mounts, the partner may be prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. If left untreated, these issues can escalate, leading to substance abuse and other serious problems.
Tips to Manage Mental Health Within a Marriage or Domestic Partnership
A marriage or domestic partnership is frequently challenged, especially when it comes to mental health. However, a strong, resilient relationship thrives in the face of adversity. If both spouses or domestic partners work together to manage their respective mental health, they can maintain a healthy relationship.
Communication plays a key role in any relationship, and it can help lay the groundwork for optimal mental health. If you believe you are coping with depression, other mental health issues, or are concerned that your partner may be struggling with such issues, speak up. This allows you to open the lines of communication with your partner and express your concerns. Then, you and your partner can collaboratively explore ways to manage your respective mental health.
If mental health issues affect one or both partners in a relationship, medical help is paramount. A doctor can meet with one or both partners and may recommend medication, psychotherapy, or other treatment options to help manage symptoms of depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may also be beneficial as an alternate or complementary depression therapy.
Attending a doctor’s appointment with a partner coping with mental health issues shows you are there to provide support. For many spouses or domestic partners, it may be helpful to attend couples therapy as well.
Couples therapy may help each partner identify and resolve conflicts. It highlights the fact that no relationship is perfect and that each partner can learn from their counterpart and find ways to make the partnership loving and successful. The therapy provides opportunities to discuss communication challenges, sexual difficulties, and other issues that impact the partnership. Plus, couples therapy encourages both partners to uncover solutions to issues that deliver long-lasting benefits.