Saving A Sinking Ship: Reaching Out To A Depressed Partner



Paying attention to depressive disorder cues is vital in helping your partner go through the condition with proper diagnosis and treatment.


The Ripple Effect


When your partner is depressed, your marriage is also depressed because this illness reverberates and erodes the concept of sexual and emotional intimacy while suffusing a relationship with resentment, isolation, pessimism, and anger.

Dr. Susan Whitbourne, Ph.D., even said, “[P]eople who have major depressive disorder (the clinical form of depression) have higher levels of distress in relationships, feel that their marriages are less satisfactory, and become unusually upset when problems develop in their relationships. They are more likely to blame their partners when things go wrong, and they tend to shut down emotionally instead of reach out and connect.”

Even the most radiant, capable person can be sucked into depression’s forceful undertow of scenarios like:


  • Being overwhelmed by extra chores inside the house that your partner refuses to finish due to lethargy.
  • Being resentful due to your spouse’s behavior that he or she cannot just snap out of.
  • Taking the blame for somehow causing the illness.
  • Feeling alone for unwillingness to convey problems inside the house that are related to your partner’s condition.
  • Wondering whatever happened to a once joyful, humorous, and fun relationship.


Do not allow depression to seep in and destroy your marriage from inside out. If you think that your significant other is depressed, you have to act not only for the welfare of your spouse but also for your relationship. After all, you wouldn’t want to be just another statistic in the divorced archive.


Getting Your Partner And Your Life Back


Initially, the most important requirement to help a depressed better half is to know how to spot depression; therefore, one must pay enough attention in recognizing the following clues, according to Dr. Dina Cagliostro:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness

  • Irritability, frustration, or restlessness

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be enjoyable

  • Difficulty sleeping, sleep disturbances or sleeping too much

  • Fatigue and lack of energy

  • Difficulty thinking clearly, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions

  • Appetite or weight changes

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or back pain.


  1. Be Perceptive Of Minor Behavioral Changes


Like a thief in the night, depression comes slowly and sometimes, imperceptibly. It will take time for couples to recognize a pattern and will take further time to accept that depression might be the main reason for minor behavioral changes. Sometimes, the depressed person is so in denial that all kinds of explanations are provided – it’s just a phase, it’s because of the economy, it’s because of the new baby.


With this kind of attitude towards the disorder, the spouse must initiate in diagnosing their partner’s condition because the illness hinders the depressing ones from realizing that there’s something profoundly wrong with their behavior. If you notice that there’s something awry about how your partner thinks, acts, or feels, suspect that your spouse might have depression. Furthermore, if your spouse has developed vices or habits like being workaholic, alcoholic, or has become a thrill-seeker, depression might be the culprit.


  1. Reach Out Before It’s Too Late




Waiting for a ship to sink before going out on a limb to help is a huge mistake because once you head on out to rescue, the person has sunk deep. This scenario is similar to helping a partner whom you think might have depression. Letting a person hit rock bottom before offering help is like allowing cancer to spread and then hoping that the malignancy will be cured.

Dr. Emmanuel Maidenberg, Ph.D., also said, “[I]f you become concerned about someone, talk to them about what you have noticed and see if they need support. It can be incredibly helpful to intervene before things get worse.”

Chronic depression is harder to treat, can severely affect the relationship, and is more likely to happen again.  But the terrifying risk of not reaching out before it’s too late is the possibility of your spouse resulting in suicide. Around 60% of those who attempted suicide either have minor or major depression or has a different mood disorder.


  1. Support Is Vital


When seeking help, see to it that you are there when the diagnosis is revealed. A lot of illnesses which includes diabetes, chronic pain, viral infections, and heart diseases can influence similar symptoms related to depression. For this reason, once the physician rules out various underlying causes and divulges the diagnosis, it is crucial that you are there to support and comfort your spouse. There will be times that depressed patients will be denying the result or will not be able to focus on the recommended treatments. During these moments, an ally is required.


Ask your spouse’s consent first. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of having someone around even if it’s their significant other. Respect your spouse’s decision whether he or she wants you to be physically there when the evaluation is given.


Remember that the percentage of success is promising if depression is treated early on. The road is relatively quiet simple – counseling or therapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both. But don’t be discouraged if recovery is not yet discernable within the few months of treatment. The road to success in battling depression is long and winding and requires a lot of patience, time, and understanding.