Will My Marriage End In Divorce Because of Depression?
After a few years of marriage many 20-something couples often anticipate the arrival of their first baby with jubilation. No one would ever assume that there would be problems! However, problems sometimes occur with overwhelmed new mothers suffering from depression. As the new moms become more and more depressed, the new fathers can become more nervous, angry, and resentful. New dads may feel like they need to take care of everything and think that the depressed mom doesn't pay attention to the baby. If depression impacts one partner, it may have an effect on the other - Sadly, this hurts the relationship and ultimately the entire family.
Millions of American adults are affected with a major depression in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Statistics about how frequently depression affects one partner in a relationship are vague, but depression often leads couples seeking counseling, as they begin to feel the pressure of a mental illness that may lead to divorce.
Is divorce inevitable with depression in a relationship?
No. It is often from the consequences of not addressing the depression that often lead to divorce, not from the actual depression itself. Not addressing depression can lead to other problems such as an affair, and this can lead to a divorce. Sometimes one partner may get so depressed that they stop working, and this can cascade into many other problems, thereby leading to divorce.
Is there hope? Yes. Couples need to address the depression and try to understand how it affects each partner. They need to locate the core of the reason that they chose to marry in the first place and keep open lines of communication. Most importantly, they need to seek professional help if necessary.
Depending on the severity of the depression, the depressed partner may check out and give up on life as they sleep too much or not enough - Pacing at night and hibernating during the daytime. They also may have a rough time concentrating and engaging in conversation as they feel increasingly responsible for the situation, but they may feel that they can't do anything about it. Often, people don't even know why they are depressed in the first place. However, the non-depressed partner may be very understanding and feel compelled to do extra work, especially if there are children in the family.
Can depression cause an angry marriage? Yes. Because the deeper the depressed partner withdraws from the relationship, the deeper the frustration and the exhaustion become within the non-depressed partner. Depression affects both partners, because the non-depressed partner feels irritation in doing activities on their own and also by staying home when they prefer to be out as a couple. One reason people fall in love is because people have fun together and they enjoy each other's company. When one partner is depressed, it can be difficult for the non-depressed partner to feel empathy, and they may even feel cheated because the depressed partner often gives them the impression that they don't care about the relationship. Further tension to the marriage often develops if the depressed partner loses interest in sex and intimacy, and if the depression continues for several months or years, both partners may feel the distance expand between them.
Discover the root of the depression. By doing so you may uncover clues as to how long the depression is likely to last. For example, if a relative has recently passed away the depression may be temporary and the depressed partner may feel better in a few weeks. Other times, the depression may be due to underlying brain changes and mental illness, therefore leading to long-term suffering. One clue may be if the depression reoccurs several times and you can not identify a trigger, which could point to something occurring in the depressed person's private thoughts.
What actually works?
Therapy. Often, talking about the depression, either alone or with their partner in therapy, brings up other issues in a marriage that, when addressed, help to ease the depression. Seeing a therapist together can give a couple valuable outlook because if they improve the depression, they could improve their marriage. Sometimes the difference is minor between couples therapy and individual therapy on treating the symptoms of depression, but couples therapy can be a better method to reduce stress on the relationship as a whole.
Combining antidepressants with talk therapy. If depression doesn't improve with talk therapy, a doctor may choose to prescribe an antidepressant along with therapy. Antidepressant medications can help to alleviate some physiological symptoms while psychotherapy may increase awareness of the emotional and circumstantial nature of the problem. If the depression is mild, antidepressants OR therapy may be prescribed rather than inc combination.
What is the prognosis for depression and relationships? Quite often, if the depression continues long-term for years, the non-depressed partner gets tired of it and seeks divorce. Less often, the non-depressed partner will stick with the marriage even if they have become more of a caretaker than a spouse. So, which couples are most likely to stay together? The couples who recognize the depression as the problem, treat it, and keep communicating with each other.
- Jeff Stein
Feature, K. (n.d.). Depression and Divorce: How Depression Affects Marriage and Relationships. Retrieved December 23, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/divorcing-depression
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