In When Someone You Love Is Depressed: How to Help Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself, Rosen and Amador describe depression “as a devastating mental illness that affects not only the depressed person but also his or her relationship (3-4)”. According to the authors, someone who is married to a depressed individual is nine times more at risk of getting a divorce than a person who is married to someone who is not depressed. What are some of the reasons for depression having such a devastating effect on marriage?
The answer is multi-faceted and has a lot to do with the symptoms of depression. For example, depression affects mood, sleep patterns, appetite, motivation, libido and even the will to live. Changes in mood can range from hopelessness to irritability and anger. A depressed person tends to withdraw into their self, leaving others wondering why they seem distant and unengaged. In the context of a marriage, a spouse may harbor doubts about whether they are still loved. To make matters worse, depression often results in a severe diminishment in the sexual drive. For the spouse of a depressed person who is already withdrawn, the lack of sexual contact can be further proof that they are no longer loved.
If this scenario isn’t difficult enough, one of the most damaging aspects of a depressed married person is the tendency to not only feel and express irritability, but to become blaming and angry about the most trivial of things.
These accumulating factors put severe stress and pressure on the marriage which is why it so often results in divorce. It’s important to stress here that most often neither spouse is aware that depression is the culprit. Often, it’s when friends or family get involved and point out that the couple needs therapy.
Very often help comes in the form of treatment for the depressed spouse and marriage therapy for the couple. Psychotherapy with or without anti-depressant medication is what is called for in the treatment of depression. Marriage counseling is designed to help the couple sort out feelings of anger, frustration and misunderstanding on the part of both husband and wife.
Below are a few facts about depression:
According to the “Women and Depression Fact Sheet” of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression is a mental illness that affects nearly fifteen million Americans. One in ten adults experience depression each day (1). Although depression affects “mood, sleep patterns, appetite, motivation, and even the will to live
Help is available:
Allan N Schwartz