Does Your Spouse Have Depression? Focused Couples Counseling Can Help You Both Cope

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Depression is often referred to as an invisible illness: there are millions of people in America who suffer from long-term, clinical depression but choose to hide their condition from friends and family. You might know someone for years but never know that behind their sunny facade, they are having trouble making it out of bed and to work every day. The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, but can include suicidal ideations and attempts, extreme fatigue, and a marked loss of interest in hobbies and family.

People who suffer from major depression often find that their spouses want to attend couples counseling: fully half of all people with depression never get psychological or medical treatment, and their spouses report struggling with child care and home management. If one person is clinically depressed, they might choose to stay in their bedroom or home for weeks or even for months at a time: their spouse then has the burden of shopping, cleaning, and caring for children and pets. Depression is devastating for the person who has it, but spouses often suffer along with them while they both look for a cure.

What is often confusing for spouses of people with depression and other mental illnesses is that their husband’s or wife’s personality can change, sometimes drastically. If your spouse was upbeat when you met them, but now doesn’t want to work or leave the house, you may feel that to be a comment on how much they love you. In couples counseling, spouses of people with mental illness come to understand that personality changes and behavioral issues are part and parcel of many mental illnesses. If you suspect that your spouse has clinical depression, try to take them to get diagnosed: it may seem difficult at first, but once they get the right medication, their condition could drastically improve.

Every year, American companies lose more than $80 billion because of workers with depression. Some people go through seasonal depression and find it difficult to be productive during the winter months; other people’s depression gets worse around the holiday season and does not improve until January 1st. Every year, more than 15 million adults report experiencing at least one bout with depression. What can be confusing for spouses of people with depression is that depression is a physical illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression is not something that a person can talk themselves out of: the disease can, however, become more manageable with the addition of psychiatric medication.

People who participate in online psychotherapy tend to report positive results after about six to eight weeks: that is also the length of time needed for antidepressant psychiatric medication to start to work. Many people with mental illness, however, stop taking their medication after it starts to work: they feel better, they give up on the medication, and their condition starts to degrade. Couples counseling sessions, along with individual therapy, can help people who suffer from a mental illness find a light in a very dark tunnel. When a person is depressed, they may think that their actions are unimportant and ineffective; that thinking, however, can cause them to miss work and to end relationships.

What people often find, however, from participating in couples counseling and marriage intensives, is that their spouse really wants to help them get better. They vowed to remain loyal through sickness and through health, and they want to stand by their vows. They may not completely understand the psychological stresses that people with mental illness go through every day, but they want their spouse to feel better and return to their normal productivity. Children want their parents to be happy and to participate with them in school sports and routine local activities: going to the movies, attending athletic events, playing games and having fun at home. Couples therapy may seem like a drastic step to take but wind up being a catalyst for healing and communication.

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