When a spouse has depression it can effect the whole family. I myself struggle with anxiety and depression and there have been times when my symptoms have impacted my marriage. Many times a struggling spouse doesn’t know how to express what they need, therefore the other person doesn’t know how to care for them. In this post I want to give my personal insight on how to care for your partner (Disclaimer: this is based off personal opinions and experience, I am not a doctor).
When your partner is struggling with depression they may show many signs and sometimes no sign at all. Here are some of the common things to look for when your spouse is hurting:
• anger/ short temper/ aggression
• frequent crying and sadness
• reclusive behavior- not leaving the house much and staying to themselves often
• weight loss due to nerves / weight gain due to using food as comfort
• confusion and excessive forgetfulness
• lack of intimacy and romance
• being clingy and needing a lot of your time and attention (I know it can be annoying but please don’t lash out at them, this is a big sign they really need you right now; Talk to them).
Aside from aggression I have experienced all of these symptoms at some point in my life. Now to the important part: What you can do to help ease their pain:
• Let them know you’re there for them and actually be there when you say you will.
• Show compassion, try putting yourself in their shoes. If they’re too paralyzed with depression to get the housework done don’t get angry with them, even offer to help out if you can.
• Be a good listener. Even if you don’t know the right things to say, just listening means the world to someone who’s mentally struggling. And please, if they start to open up pause the television- they need your upmost attention right now
• Ask questions- find out what’s making them feel this way. This is going to give you a better understanding of why they’re experiencing symptoms and how they are feeling internally. Mental illness causes all kinds of havoc in the body, from muscle aches to stomach pain and so much more.
• If they recluse themselves don’t try to force conversation out of them. Simply let them know you’re here for them, that you love them, and give them a little space if they need it. Let them know when they’re ready that you will be right there to listen.
• Go the extra mile- hold them for a little while. When I can’t pull myself together my husband holds me as I cry into his T-shirt; I feel the weight of the world melt off my shoulders. Let them know you love them.
Severe depression is nothing to take lightly. I have personally lost a friend and a family member to mental illness, my family almost lost me a few months ago. Here are 5 red flags that indicates it’s time to insure that they get professional help (no person handles things the same, there are defiantly more than 5 signs, however I’m covering the ones I personally know all too well).
1. Self Harm / Talking About Self Harming
2. Expressing signs of total despair, devastation, or trauma
3. Cutting ties with people, things, and hobbies that normally bring them happiness
4. Turning to bad habits that may be life/health threatening (drugs is a good example)
5. Participating in reckless activities because they no longer care about their life and what could happen to it
It is very important to keep in mind that not all people are going to have the same symptoms, some may show no signs at all. When you hear people quote about how “the happiest people being the saddest” it is normally true, they wear a mask and that’s the most dangerous thing of all. I really hope you will take this blog to heart and always remember to be kind, you don’t know what someone else is going through. I hope Iv shared good insight to those who love someone with mental illness, maybe this will help you see their situation in a different light. My last piece of advice: Sit down and have a loving conversation with your partner, let them know they are very loved, and ask them what you can do to help them.