It’s not unusual for people to believe a healthy relationship will keep mental illness away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. And, with 1 in 6 Americans struggling with depression, it very much does impact couples. If one partner is suffering from depression, it can create a dynamic that confuses and frustrates both of you.
Left unchecked, the emotions will continue to fester. The partner without depression may feel stifled or rejected. In turn, the partner with depression is left dealing with guilt and shame. The cycle rages on and the strife intensifies. It is crucial to learn more about what is going on.
Depression is Related to Relationship Struggles
When a couple has problems, they typically don’t assume depression is the root cause. However, research shows us how probable this can be. As touched on above, depression creates a dangerous cycle in which cause and effect are hard to discern.
When one partner is depressed, they may be:
- Distant and uninvolved
- Paying less attention to the relationship
- Prone to irritability
- Unable to enjoy time together
All of the above can create even more marital issues. Those issues then serve to increase the risk of depression developing. Again, it’s a cycle. Therefore, a big first step is to know which red flags to watch for.
4 Ways Depression Can Impact A Couple
1. Unable to Deal With Emotions
In the best of times, negative emotions are not fun. If you or your partner is depressed, there is a strong likelihood that feelings will be repressed. Over time, this shutting down can morph into withdrawal. That’s when empathy and compassion can be impossible to access. It’s also when depression may be suspected.
Anyone struggling with a depressive disorder will find themselves feeling hopeless at times. There appears to be little about the future to look forward to. Inject this mindset into a relationship setting and the hopelessness may become aimed at the relationship itself. If either or both of you feel like nothing will help, depression may be present.
3. Decreased Intimacy
This is a major red flag. Roughly 3 out of 4 people with depression report that their sex drive has decreased or vanished. Of course, every couple goes through time periods when intimacy is not happening on a regular basis. If this has become your default setting, depression may be the culprit.
4. Acting Out
This is more common in men but is still a tell-tale sign to watch for. By “acting out,” we’re talking about stuff like:
- Substance abuse
- Aggressive behavior
- Risky behavior
Healthy Communication is Needed
To address such serious issues, both partners must create space to open up about their feelings. Such conversations are difficult but they are essential. Be honest about what you need. If necessary, you can literally schedule times to do things together. Of course, both partners must resist the urge to self-medicate or take it out on the other. Perhaps, most important of all, you’ll need to talk with an experienced mental health professional.
There is good news. Firstly, depression is treatable and manageable. Secondly, managing depression creates room for relationship problems to be explored and addressed. This process may involve a blend of individual and couples therapy. Either setting will provide a safe space to open up about the concerns that have stalled your progress as a couple.
This powerful process commences with a simple phone call. Let’s connect. Let’s set you up with a free and confidential consultation. Together, we can identify root causes, recognize counterproductive patterns, and create new approaches. You can feel better on your own and you can feel better as a couple. Let’s discover some solutions!