Warning! Depression is Affecting Your Relationships!
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Did you know that depression and relationships are in cahoots? Yes, they go hand in hand. On one side, relationship problems such as strife, communication issues, isolation, and inability to resolve problems can all cause depression. But on the other side if you are feeling depressed, you may not want to pay attention to your partner, you may not be as involved, and you might feel more irritable. Either way, you may have trouble enjoying your time together, and these factors combined can cause your relationship to tremble.
It's a vicious cycle. Yes, depression affects your relationship and your relationship affects your level of depression. Sure there are warning signs of depression existing in a relationship, but they aren’t always clear and obvious. In order to know what you’re up against, you first must be able to identify when and how depression is interfering.
Has your sex life dwindled? Has it vanished? Many people suffering from depression experience a lack of sex drive. It's normal to have your highs and lows with your sexual desire, but a signal that depression is present is when your lack of sexual connection becomes long-term. There can be a lot of reasons for your lack of sexual interest and many of them can be related to symptoms of depression. Identify and address certain problems like performance anxiety, poor body image, taking excessive amounts of medication, feeling exhausted, shame about sex, hidden resentment, and so on. Through addressing these challenges together partners can strengthen their relationship through their sexual connection and newly reignited passion.
Do you feel hopeless about your relationship? Sure, we all feel overwhelmed about the future sometimes, but an inescapable and widespread sense of hopelessness is a signal that depression is warping your perception. This distortion that comes with depression may be twisting your thoughts into believing the future looks hopeless and that things will never get better. A feeling of hopelessness is one of the main indicators of depression and of suicidal thoughts. Remember that feeling hopeless about your future with your partner doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ruined.
Are your emotions fighting you? People suffering from depression have a harder than normal time dealing with negative emotions, and the intensity of their emotions can overwhelm them as they react by shutting down when strong emotions come into their minds. Depressed people often handle their strong emotions by thinking about them over and over again (ruminating). They also ignore or deny feelings and become extremely critical of themselves. In all relationships conflicts emerge, the depressed partner is unprepared to handle problems that bring forth strong emotions. They are having difficulties empathizing with their partner, so they tend to withdraw from their partner altogether or overreact to the issue and detonate. Needless to say that handling conflicts like this can be quite destructive to the relationship.
Are you tempted to act out? Some depressed people, particularly men, are more likely to express their depression externally. Depressed men tend to act out their depression through drinking alcohol, becoming aggressive, having affairs, or by closing out their loved ones and withdrawing. Men also tend to suffer from more physical symptoms such as backaches, headaches, and low sex drive. Men also have a harder time recognizing their own depression, and they are less likely to get help for it because they may not even realize that their behaviors suggest a lurking depression.
Is anxiety affecting you? Anxiety is depression's best friend and they are often seen together, usually in the form of mixed anxiety and depression. These problems - sleep issues, problems with concentration, low energy levels, high irritability and worry, expecting the worst, and being constantly guarded, can also challenge your relationship. When you come across the regular everyday relationship issues that come up, you often feel that there is a gloomy undefined threat lurking within your relationship. It may feel like the relationship is sentenced to failur. This distorted threat can activate heightened anxiety and an extreme need to seek reassurance — which can put your relationship under even more stress. This false feeling of peril to your relationship can be stressful for both partners and it can leave you with lasting feelings of doubt.
Relationships that have depression involved certainly have their challenges. Serious damage only occurs if the problems are ignored. So by being aware of them and learning some coping strategies, many issues can be resolved. Remember to be open with your partner and your physician, and address your symptoms of depression as quickly as possible.
- Jeff Stein
Depression is affecting people's relationships every day - I know it is affecting my relationship with my wife. What do I mean? I am saying that at times throughout our marriage and relationship that my wife and I both have had times of depression. We have each had times where we faced depression individually and collectively.
During times when we have dealt with our depression separately and as individuals, it was easier than when we were both depressed. However, I worry that far too often when one half of a couple is facing depression, or symptoms of depression, that they are contagious. I don’t mean in the germ sense of contagious. I am referring to the rubbing off on your mate type of contagious.
When I am down and depressed, I often drag my wife into the pit with me, but it would be so much more helpful to me if I would allow her to work from the top of the pit without dragging her in. She could go about finding a solution to my entrapment, looking for a rope to drop down to me, or a ladder that she can slide down for me to climb up. In the very least, if she is topside then she can seek help from someone else that is qualified to do so. However, when she gets down in the pit to keep me company, we both become trapped and in need of rescue.
Alternatively, she is down and depressed, I try to be there for her, and I carry some of the additional weight of our family responsibility for her. To use a baseball analogy, I far too often I stand around and look at the dropped ball lying on the ground. I hover over it with the attitude of, ‘it wasn’t my ball to play, it was hers.’ This mentality is ineffective, because the hitter (life) keeps running the bases and will eventually score if we don’t do whatever it takes to stop and play the game on our terms once again.
I have often heard it said that, ‘relationships are 50/50. He gives 50 percent, she gives 50 percent and the combined effort is 100 percent.’ When people tell me this I ask them if they want to fail. Most everyone says no. Fifty percent effort is failure.
Let me put it this way: If you and I are taking a class in school and we each score a 50 out of 100 on a test which is a failing grade, the teacher does not combine our scores and give us both a 100 percent making it not only passing but the best. The only way to have outstanding and successful relationships is for both people to give 100 percent. Anything less than 100 percent and we cannot be our best as individuals or as couples. Try it and let me know how it works.
The Warning Signs That Depression Is Affecting Your Relationship | MIND Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/2014/03/06/the-warning-signs-that-depression-is-affecting-your-relationship/