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Unfortunately, depression and conflict often go hand in hand. Depression — a treatable disorder — can have devastating effects on a marriage or relationship.
With reported rates of depression numbering more than 300 million people worldwide (see World Health Organization, 2018), we need to understand the impact of depression on marriage and intimate relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, during the year 2016, an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States suffered from at least one depressive episode.
While depression affects both men and women, women are about twice as likely to suffer from depression than men. Additionally, women are more likely to experience co-occurring anxiety if they are experiencing depression while men are more likely to experience co-occurring alcohol abuse.
If one or both partners is suffering from depression the relationship will be impacted, especially if the depression is untreated and continues over time. People who are suffering from depression often have distorted cognitions and interpret things in a negative way. The depressed partner may not feel worthy of love and may expect the relationship to end. Physical symptoms of depression may also take its toll on the couple’s life. Physical symptoms of depression include:
If you would like to read the full list of symptoms for depression you can read the article here.
Some people complain that living with a depressed partner is almost like having a third person in the relationship. During a depressive episode, a person’s worldview can shift and suddenly become more negative. Everything feels hopeless, and even the relationship is perceived negatively. Once the episode passes and the person feels better, it can feel like your old partner has returned. These ups and downs can make life more difficult.
Depression itself and medication for depression can impact sexual desire for both men and women. If you and your partner are concerned about libido, depression, and medication, it is important to talk to your doctor and understand the issues. Not all kinds of depression need medication, and psychotherapy can help. Ultimately, you, your therapist, and your doctor need to discuss the issues and understand the options of treatment.
Depression is among the most treatable disorders. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has been shown repeatedly to be effective in treating depression. Individual therapy and Untalk therapy for couples can help both partners understand the effects of depression and how it is impacting their lives together. Depression is a serious illness, but neither you or your partner have to suffer alone. There are many options for help available.
Philip DeLuca MSW, LCSW is a couples counselor and relationship expert in Matthews, North Carolina.
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