The harmful effects of depression in marriage are not limited to the person diagnosed with that disorder. Clearly, depression in one marital partner can affect that person’s spouse. In fact, depression in a marriage often disrupts communication and social patterns and can even contribute to depressed mood in the “non-depressed” spouse.
The first and most important thing you can do is to find ways to remind yourself that your spouse or partner is ill. Diagnosed depression is much like diabetes or heart disease from the perspective that it is an illness that requires special attention and considerable patience. Keep that in mind every time you feel like calling him or her unfriendly things when you are at your wit’s end.
The patience of this magnitude is a tall order. It will help if you have a good friend, a supportive family member, a therapist, or some other caring person in your life to listen to you and help you up during the hard times. Recovery from depression often takes longer than the ill person or the people surrounding him or her think they can stand. You need someone to be in your corner in order to deal with depression in your marriage.
Perhaps the single most important action you can take is to assist your spouse in getting proper diagnosis and treatment for his or her depression from a health care professional
This is not the time to try to make him or her take responsibility. Not going for treatment is generally not a reflection of irresponsibility. It’s part of the illness. A sense of hopelessness is common to all depressive illnesses and may be the very thing that keeps your spouse from getting needed help! So, if you want to do something this is what you can do!
Take care of yourself. You won’t be of much help to yourself or others if you allow your spouse’s depression to envelop you as well. Eat well, get enough sleep, stay in contact with your friends and continue your work and social commitments to the greatest extent possible.
As stated above, don’t hesitate to get some professional help for yourself if you need it. It’s okay to need a private place to deal with your feelings of anger, disappointment, and upset.
Marriage and commitment are for better or worse. Depression in marriage is definitely one of the “worse.” But with good treatment, encouragement, and caring, most depressed people do recover. With good support, most spouses break the silence and make it as well.