Depression Or Just The Blues? 3 Tips When Your Spouse Just Doesn't Seem To Enjoy Life Anymore
Every marriage has its ups and downs, but when one partner seems "down" most of the time, it is important to take this matter seriously. Depression can strike anyone at any time, and it is important to know the signs of clinical depression and how they compare to typical bouts of sadness that everyone has on occasion. Depression in one partner can take a huge toll on a relationship when it is untreated. Follow these tips for determining if your spouse has clinical depression and how to help them love life again.
1. Know the Difference Between Depression and Occasional Sadness
It is normal for a person to experience sadness after a death in the family, being let-go from a job they loved, or even after a favorite sports team didn't win that championship. However, normal bouts of sadness come to an end, and they don't continue for months on end.
Most psychological professionals consider sadness that lasts over two weeks depression. Other signs of depression include a lost interest in activities that a person once enjoyed and changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
What makes diagnosing depression tricky is that not everyone shows the same signs. Some people hide the signs the best they can and continue with daily activities. Others spend days in bed or cry regularly for no apparent reason when depressed. This is where you come in handy as a spouse, because even when your partner is able to hide depression from everyone else in their life, you live with them and notice signs that others do not.
2. Remember You Are Not the Cause
When one partner develops depression, it is not uncommon for a spouse to feel like they caused it by not being a "good enough" spouse. You may look back at past arguments and try to figure out what you may have said to "trigger" your partner's depressive episode. You may begin taking on more household tasks and doing nice things for your spouse every day and become disappointed when your partner's depression continues despite your best efforts at trying to fill their life with happiness.
Remember that your partner's depression is not your fault and that even though they appreciate your nice gestures, they have a serious mental illness that no kind gesture can cure. Continue being a supportive spouse, but it is extremely important for the sake of your entire relationship to remember that you did not cause your partner's depression and that you also cannot cure it.
3. Encourage Your Spouse to Seek Counseling
Don't be afraid to encourage your spouse to seek mental health counseling to help them manage their depression. No one enjoys being depressed, and you may find out that your partner has even considered it himself or herself but did not want to bring it up for fear that you would judge them as "weak" for not being able to manage their condition themselves. Along with individual counseling for your spouse, couples counseling is also important when one partner is experiencing depression because one partner's depression affects an entire marriage greatly.
If your spouse has been sad for a few weeks, then realize that they may be experiencing clinical depression and not just everyday "ups and downs." Recovering from depression is easier when it is treated early, and counseling for both you and your partner can help save your relationship during your partner's difficult time.