What Do I Do If I Think My Spouse Is Depressed?

Depression affects a startling number of people. What’s more shocking is that only 50% of those with major depression seek treatment for their troubles. When you’re married, this inability to reach out can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the signs are there. If you suspect that your spouse may be depressed, you don’t have to simply watch them suffer alone. Here are three things you can do, as a supportive partner, that may encourage them to seek psychotherapy.

  • Don’t wait. We are all fallible creatures. We like to believe that if we ignore something, it goes away, but that is far from the truth. If you notice your spouse going through small yet significant changes, don’t wait until they hit rock bottom to bring it up. Long-term depression is not only harder on your marriage, but it’s also tougher to treat and recover from. It is easier to address the problem when you notice, rather than take the risk with waiting.
  • Be gentle, yet firm. Addressing the issue can be daunting for both parties. As difficult as it may be to do, you must do it; do your best to resist the feelings of anger and betrayal you might feel, and instead focus on your concern. Rather than yelling your assumed diagnosis, sit down and address the tiredness, lack of appetite, and overall melancholy or apathy you’ve noticed in a gentle way.
  • Get a diagnosis — together. Facing a legitimate depression diagnosis can be terrifying for some people, especially those who view mental illness as a weakness. Instead of forcing your spouse to attend counseling on their own, join them as an ally; it will strengthen your relationship while offering support when they need it the most. However, it’s vital that you seek permission before volunteering yourself — if your spouse is uncomfortable discussing their emotions in front of you, they’ll have a harder time expressing themselves.

Marriage is about partnership. When you agree to love and honor someone for the rest of your lives, that means standing by their side through the good and bad times. Though it may be difficult, the two of you can see this struggle through and come out stronger for it in the end.

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