There are a wide range of challenges (big and small) that affect couples and families, from serious issues like financial struggles to something as simple as arguing over what movie to watch. While some of these may cause trouble to the relationship and require couples therapy, others are easily resolved. However, the condition of depression can have a serious impact on the health of a romantic relationship—and in this case, couples therapy isn’t necessarily the answer.
While there are now advanced psychiatric therapies to treat a wide spectrum of conditions, including depression, many couples fail to recognize the signs of this debilitating condition and allow it to tear down their relationship.
So how can you recognize depression and keep it from destroying your relationship? Here are a few things you can do.
Know the Signs
Naturally, before you can start seeking help, you need to recognize that a problem exists. Contrary to popular belief, being depressed doesn’t just mean that you feel sad all the time. For many individuals, depression heightens the feelings of risk associated with the normal problems most relationships face. Even minor arguments or challenges can make you feel that there is no hope for the continued success of your relationship.
Quite often, these feelings trigger additional anxiety and stress and cause you to feel uncertain about the health of your relationship, despite assurances from your partner. Quite often, this can cause you to withdraw from your partner and isolate yourself emotionally. On the other hand, you may act out against your partner and seek conflict.
This unhealthy approach to conflicts further heightens the tension that may exist in a relationship as a result of depression. Studies have consistently found that this impacts a couple’s sex life and can result in other complications, such as frequent headaches or unusual behavior.
If left unchecked, these relationship issues associated with depression can spiral into even more destructive behavior, including affairs and abuse. Because of this, it is essential that you seek help when you notice signs of depressive behavior in yourself or your partner.
Coping With Depression
Successfully dealing with depression doesn’t just mean seeking professional therapy services—though this is certainly a step in the right direction for many individuals. Remember that you aren’t the only person who has been affected by your condition. Speaking openly and honestly with your partner about what you’ve been experiencing and your need to seek help is an important step on the road to recovery.
Start by looking at the big picture of your depression. Even if elements of your partner’s behavior have bothered you and potentially even contributed to your depression, playing the blame game isn’t going to help. As you reach out to your partner for help, you can grow closer and work through these problems together (though in instances of dangerous abuse or mistreatment, this is not recommended).
It can be easy to let your mind trick you into making incorrect assumptions when you’re depressed—telling you that your partner doesn’t care about you or that they’re the sole source of your problems. While there are some instances where this may be the case, quite often, your partner is the one best equipped to assist you as you get the help you need. In some cases, couples therapy may also be required to fully overcome the effects of your depression.
While depression can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to your relationship, it is something that can be overcome. As you are open and honest with yourself and your partner about your feelings, you can work together to ensure that this condition doesn’t undermine your relationship. The sooner you seek professional help so you can overcome the effects of this debilitating condition, the easier it will be to restore the spark to your relationship and get your life back on track.