Depression's Many Traps
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Did you know that depression sets traps for both partners in relationships? Its true! It's very important to be able to spot these changes as soon as possible because everything can change quickly. Joking around, having conversations, doing activities together, and sharing special moments together can disappear in the blink of an eye - With depression, they can be quickly replaced by frustration, avoidance, anger, and blame.
The Two Expressions of Depression
One side of depression is passive with loss of energy and sadness, and the other side is aggressive. On the passive side, abuse is focused toward one's self. The depressed partner is the center of the problems, and they become so involved with themselves that they can get to the point of losing their ability to relate to others realistically. Rather than lashing out at others, they focus on their own worthlessness, even to the point of thinking that suicide could be something that they themselves deserve. On the other hand, depression can be expressed outwardly through aggression, where anger is directed at others, and everybody else becomes a target for blame. Sadly, it's often the person that they’re closest to who takes the brunt of their rage.
What are some of the traps?
Irritability. This is a constant feeling that leads to criticism of others and a chronic annoyance at trivial things. Over a period of time, depression can instigate a constant barrage of criticism towards the non depressed partner. Any attempt to learn what’s going on often leads to angry denial or bursts of anger that can come frequently.
Control. When depression confuses inner feelings, depressed partners try to control their home and family as closely as possible, because they want everything to be predictable. They can get angry at minor upsets that change the sense of order they’re trying to preserve. The order, however, is completely irrational and can change from moment to moment, depending on their own feelings. Usually, the depressed partners are very tense and their behavior is very painful for the rest of the family.
Blame. Blaming others for creating their problems occurs when the depressed partners are close to inner collapse, and they accuse their partners of ignoring their needs and ruining their lives without any logical reason for doing so. Someone else is always considered to be at fault and their partner is regarded as selfish and even evil.
Abuse. Condescension and rejection become commonplace and there is blame in every glance. Dismissive comments about their partner become the norm. Verbal attacks and ignoring their partners can even lead to physical attacks.
Addiction and escape. The depressed partner may try to escape the pain of depression and this can lead to addictive behavior. Alcohol, drugs, and pornography can dull feelings which can provide temporary emotional highs and arousal to replace the despair or lack of deep feelings caused by depression. Real intimacy and relationship seem far off and disappear in the need to get away from the reality of the illness.
Emotional withdrawal. Quickly, a depressed partner can feel like they’re not in their relationship. Physically, they can be there, but emotionally they are numb and absent. In their mind, they’re becoming observers rather than participants in their life and nothing seems to get through to them. It’s as if they’ve disappeared from the relationship.
Obsessive thinking. The depressed partner can’t stop thinking about what they did wrong today or they focus on every mistake they ever made. Time doesn’t make any difference. The memories of failure, real or imagined, are very intense for a depressed person. They’re always close to the surface and provide reminders every day of their inadequateness. They’re lost in the memories of everything they’ve ever done wrong and can never set right and this becomes a constant distraction from any effort to connect with a partner.
Isolation. Depressed partners spend a lot of time alone because they feel overwhelmed and are unable to feel safe in connecting with anybody. They need space to hold onto the little energy they have left. They may want to do things by themselves that they used to do with their partners, which results in the non depressed partner feeling isolated as well.
Indifference. Sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed or too upset to face anyone is replaced by the inability to feel much of anything. Something is missing in one's heart and nothing provides excitement anymore. Even interest in sex can be lost.
Inability to talk. Depression can be so profound that the desire to talk and communicate vanishes. The partner might be willing to sit and stare for hours - Stewing over something upsetting but never acknowledging the truth of what they are feeling. Nothing inside can be exposed through words and if asked a question, there’s little response or even actively denying the invitation to discuss anything at all.
Shame and worthlessness. One of depression's tell tale signs is its overpowering sense of worthlessness. Positivity is replaced with negativity and the partner believes that nothing will ever work out for them.
Remember, these traps can destroy your relationship and they may not occur one at a time. Depression can bring them all together and any of them can arrive without notice.
What to Do?
The depressed partner should actively acknowledge their situation and choose how they would like to live their lives - If they decide that they want to overcome this challenge, than treatment is the first step. The non-depressed partner must likewise identify how they would like to continue working with their depressed partner and if they choose to stick through it together, patience, listening, and encouragement are the first steps to identifying the best treatment method for their partner.
- Jeff Stein
11 Relationship Traps of Depression - Recover Life from Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://www.storiedmind.com/relationship/11-relationship-traps-of-depression/