Severe depression, also referred to as major depression and clinical depression is defined as having a depressed mood most of the time and symptoms are persistent for two weeks or more. People with major depression also tend to lose interest in normal everyday activities, and their relationships. In fact, the impact on relationships can be one of the primary symptoms of severe depression along with extreme fatigue, insomnia or excessive sleeping and general loss of pleasure.
There are treatment options for clinical depression, which most often include a combination of therapy and medication. For people with major depression who don’t respond to these treatments, there are also options like transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS for depression.
However, regardless of whether someone with major depression is receiving treatment or not, it can take a toll on the spouse or partner of the person as well.
The following are some ways you can cope if you’re living with a spouse or partner who has major depression.
When you’re on the outside looking in at your spouse who’s clinically depressed, you may have the urge to tell them to snap out of it or make changes, so they’ll feel better. It’s just not this simple, however, and the more you can learn about depression as a partner, the better your ability to cope is likely to be.
Depression is a physical illness that changes brain chemistry in profound ways, and it’s often a combination of complex genetic and environmental factors. If you can empower yourself by learning about depression and the fact that it is an illness just like diabetes or arthritis, the more you may be able to provide a strong support system.
Within that same context, since depression is, in fact, a disease you shouldn’t blame yourself for what your significant other is going through, just like you wouldn’t blame yourself for any other disease they might be diagnosed with.
Participate In Treatment
It can be valuable for both people involved in a relationship to participate in treatment. This is a good way for you to learn more about your partner’s illness, and also to show support.
Another benefit of participating in treatment if you have a depressed partner is the fact that you can learn how to recognize small signs or red flags that could be warning signs of something else.
Find Your Own Support System
When you spend so much time trying to provide support for your significant other, it can be tough to have support for yourself.
It’s essential that you also have a support system in place. One way to achieve this is by going to therapy on your own to learn coping mechanisms and talk through your own feelings. You might also want to find a group of friends or an actual support group of people who share similar experiences.
It's also important that you take care of yourself in other ways as well, such as finding things that you enjoy doing when you feel overwhelmed.
Above all, as the spouse or significant other of someone who suffers from major depression, know that there are many treatment options available and often people have to through several to find what works for them, but it’s important not to lose hope.