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Recognizing Depression in Your Partner

Depression is a difficult illness in any circumstance. The repercussions for untreated, long-term depression can be wide ranging and potentially dangerous. And when you are dealing with a depressed spouse the problems affect every aspect of the relationship and family, and can have devastating consequences on everyone involved.

How do you know if your partner is depressed?

One of the biggest problems with depression is that it can be hard to recognize even for the person suffering with it. Chances are that if someone is struggling with depression they will understand that something is wrong, but not know how to define it. That can make it especially tricky for a partner to recognize, too.

It may seem at first like your partner is simply moody and maybe lazy. They may seem down or sad, or frustrated with life. They don’t want to do things they used to, and perhaps you even feel like they have fallen out of love with you.  

These behaviors can be symptomatic of many things, from a midlife crisis to genuine marital issues. So how can you tell if it is actually depression?

Depression is different from passing sadness or temporary frustration with life’s issues. There are number of common signs for depression and they tend to be persistent. Among them are the following:

  • Withdrawal. If your partner shows an increasing withdrawal from social situations and possibly from you, this can be a sign of depression. Depression is isolating. When you are depressed it can feel exhausting or overwhelming to connect with others in even a basic way.
  • Disengagement. As with the withdrawal from social life, you may see your partner begin to remove themselves from hobbies or interests they once enjoyed. It may now feel like too much work. Or, where they once had the motivation and drive to accomplish tasks like household chores, work projects or exercise, they now no longer do, opting instead to watch TV or sleep.
  • Exhaustion/Fatigue. Depression is exhausting to the person suffering from it. Just accomplishing the bare minimum can seem like too much work. If your partner is sleeping more or tired all the time, this could be a sign of depression.
  • Anger/Moodiness. When a once easy-going spouse gets angry or sad at the drop of a hat they may be dealing with depression. Anger is a particular sign in men.
  • Changes in the bedroom. It is not surprising that along with the other symptoms of depression you may also see changes in the bedroom. In a relationship where an active intimate life has been the norm, this may be one of the most glaring indications of a problem. If your sex life has taken a downturn, and you see some of the other symptoms listed, you may be dealing with a partner suffering from depression.

These are just a few of the most common symptoms of depression. The combination can vary, as can the severity of each. However, you are seeing these signs in your partner it is worth considering depression as a possible cause.

What should you do if you suspect your partner is depressed?

Clinical depression is not likely to go away on its own. It is not a passing phase, nor is it your fault. The longer it goes on the more problems it will cause for your partner, for you and for your relationship. Left untreated it can lead to erratic behavior, substance abuse, or, at its most devastating, suicide. If you believe that your partner may be depressed you need to take action and seek a professional diagnosis.

As mentioned, someone suffering depression may know that there is something wrong or different going on. They are not likely to proclaim themselves depressed, however, or be overly receptive to being labeled by you. Rather than dealing with things on your own, work toward getting him/her into see a doctor. There are some physical ailments that have similar symptoms and should be ruled out as well.

With the help of a physician’s opinion your partner should be more willing to get the mental health help they need. Another option is to get the advice of a mental health professional. With help your partner can be on the road to relief and recovery more quickly. And so can your relationship.

Recognizing Depression in Your Partner

Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching and writes a blog about the issues facing men (and the women who love them). As an expert in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today, he regularly appears on The Huffington Post, NerdWallet and PsychCentral. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their lives and relationships better. Check out his weekly tips on Facebook or Twitter.


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APA Reference
Smith, K. (2018). Recognizing Depression in Your Partner. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/recognizing-depression-in-your-partner/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 12 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Jun 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.