Depressed Spouse: How to Help a Partner with Depression

Depressed Spouse: How to Help a Partner with Depression

Author: GIA Chicago
Published: October 18, 2022

Depression can be a difficult thing to experience. For some people, it can emerge from a combination of several factors. For others, it may come completely out of the blue.

While our natural response is to try and help someone we care about, it can be hard to say and do the right things when a loved one is experiencing a mental health condition.

This article will act as a guide, showing how you can best act as a supportive partner when it comes to your spouse's depression.

Understanding Depression

Depression is the most common mental health condition. In 2019, it affected 4.7% of adults aged 18 and over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This equates to more than fifteen million Americans suffering from depression.

To better understand what depression might look like, it is important to know what someone with this mental illness might be experiencing. A doctor may give a diagnosis of major depression if an individual has been feeling the symptoms of depression for at least two weeks or longer.

Some of the signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, tearful, empty, or hopeless
  • Irritability, Frustration, or feelings of anger
  • Loss of interest in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Weight change
  • Feelings of anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speech, or body movements
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Trouble with thinking, concentrating, decision making or memory
  • Thoughts of death, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts or attempts - if you are having any of these thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now on 988 to speak to a healthcare professional

If your partner is experiencing any of these symptoms of depression, then it is important that you speak to a mental health professional. They will be able to provide you with the correct medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Changing the Way We Talk about Depression

As each day goes by, scientists and psychologists are learning more and more about depression. As our understanding of depression improves, so does the way we view mental illness.

In days gone by, people saw depression as something that you should hide, or keep to yourself. Now, people all around the world understand it to be a serious medical illness. An illness that, much like a broken arm or any other physical injury, needs treating.

By breaking the stigma associated with depression and other mental health conditions, together, we will be able to increase the number of people that seek help for the illness and, in turn, improve their quality of life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that in 2020, 45,979 people lost their lives as a result of depression in the US alone. By encouraging individuals suffering from the condition to be open about the condition and find support, that figure can become smaller.

How to Help My Partner with Depression

How to Help My Partner with Depression

Helping a depressed partner is not always easy, especially if you've never experienced depression yourself. Family members and friends can only go so far in helping a depressed person feel supported, but sometimes the effort alone can make a big difference.

By reading this article, it is clear that you want to support your partner through a difficult time. It may not always feel like such a big deal, but by helping them feel supported, you can also help reduce your partner's pain.

Below you will find various ways your partner living with depression may be able to help themselves. You can play your part in this by encouraging them to do these things.

Practice Self Care

Whether you are depressed or not, you should be practicing self-care. It is vital to maintaining a healthy mind and a healthy body. If you look after these two things, you are valuing yourself and caring for yourself, which are two things that can help reduce your partner's symptoms.

By looking after your body, you are looking after your mind, and by looking after your mind, you are looking after your body.

By suggesting, if not modeling, any of the following medically reviewed self-help tips to your loved one, you will provide valuable knowledge in reducing depressive symptoms.

Physical activity

Exercise is one way that wellness professionals suggest can reduce a person's depression. By being active and doing exercise you can make an important first step in improving your mood, reducing anxiety, and improving other health problems.

Being depressed can make you feel like you have no energy, but if you release endorphins through exercise, then you are likely to feel revitalized. This can enhance your sense of well-being and reduce depressive symptoms.

Mindfulness

A large part of depression is about how your thoughts make you feel. Mindfulness, or meditation, helps you to look at your thoughts as separate from your feelings. Mindfulness involves paying attention to your experience in the present moment and just observing thoughts and emotions without judgment or getting caught up in them.

You can practice this by taking ten minutes out of your day. In those ten minutes, you will close your eyes and observe your thoughts and feelings. When your mind wanders, take note of where it goes and then calmly return to the moment by focusing on your breath.

By practicing mindfulness, you can slow down your heart rate, detach from thoughts that make you feel hurt and feel a sense of calmness. All three of these can improve your sense of well-being and reduce depressive symptoms in your partner.

Eating the Right Foods

Scientists have medically reviewed how diets relate to mood and have found some surprising results. By eating a healthier diet, those that suffer from depression are able to tackle their medical condition.

Eating a healthier diet, consisting of the right nutrients, not only gives your body the proper nutrition that it needs, but it also helps you practice valuing and caring for yourself. This is something that people that suffer from mental illness can sometimes struggle to do.

If these self-help tips aren't quite enough, then it could be time to seek the help of a healthcare professional.

Encourage Treatment

If you feel that your partner is not able to treat their condition through the tips above, then it could be time to seek professional help. What this means is that a doctor will speak to your partner and decide what steps need to be taken to combat their condition. They can then provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Treatment can involve many different things, including therapy, medication, support groups, and more. You will be able to choose, with your doctor, which treatment options you think will suit you best.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

There are many different treatments when it comes to depression. Medically reviewed treatments are widely available and effective at improving well-being. Below are the different forms of treatment that your partner can expect.

Therapy

Scientists and psychologists believe that depression is reinforced and experienced through patterns of thought and behaviors. Therefore, through peer-reviewed studies, they have developed different behavioral therapies that can help your partner battle their condition.

Some of these behavioral therapies include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management (CM)
  • Group therapy - such as a support group
  • Relationship counseling - including families, friends, partners

Oftentimes, healthcare professionals will use these therapies in conjunction with medications. This will not always be the case, however. Especially if you have not had success with medications in the past.

Medication

In order to aid your recovery process, a doctor may prescribe medications alongside therapies to help a depressed person reduce their depressive condition. Some of these medications may include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

There are many other medications available, but these are the most likely antidepressants that your doctor will offer to you.

These medications can be very effective, but this is not to say that they work for everybody. If your medications don't work for you, then it could be that you need to give it more time. If, after giving it time, your medication still doesn't work, you can then discuss with your mental health professional whether you need to try out different medications, or if you need to stop using them altogether.

Other forms of treatment

There are also newer forms of treatment that are showing promising signs in treating a person with mental health conditions, including other illnesses such as alcohol abuse.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a new, non-invasive, medically reviewed treatment that doesn't involve medications. It uses electromagnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to reduce depressive symptoms.

By delivering repetitive magnetic pulses to a specific region of the brain, scientists and psychologists think that TMS may activate regions of the brain that have decreased activity due to the illness. As experts learn more about the most effective ways to perform such treatments, techniques may change and TMS may become more effective.

Where Can I Get Support

Where Can I Get Support?

Is someone in your family struggling with a mental condition? Are you worried that your relationship is becoming strained because of the condition? Well, there is hope for you.

Here at GIA Chicago, we are pioneering the world of non-invasive brain stimulation and wellness. By creating cutting-edge facilities, we can provide partners and family members with the support they need to regain control of their life.

Our compassionate and expert staff will support each person that they work with, leading them to live a better life with their partners and families.

If you are ready to start your recovery today, then our phone lines are available twenty-four hours a day.

Call us on (312) 313-4566 or contact us here to start your journey to recovery today.

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