How to Help Your Spouse With Depression

Depression in a Relationship: When Your Spouse Is Depressed

Depression in a Relationship

When your spouse has depression, your marriage or relationship can become strained. And it is not easy loving someone who is always unhappy and negative.

What’s worse is when a depressed spouse won’t admit they are depressed and refuses treatment.

Here is what you need to know about living with a depressed spouse, coping when your partner is depressed, helping them, and what to do when they refuse help and push you away.

What Depression in a Relationship or Marriage Looks Like

When one spouse is depressed, it takes a toll on the entire marriage or relationship. This is because depression affects every aspect of the marriage or relationship, from finances to household responsibilities, and to emotional and sexual intimacy.

Research from the Readers Digest Marriage in America Survey finds that 42 percent of people report depression as one of the bigger challenges in their intimate relationships.

The harmful effects of depression are not limited to the depressed person.  The partner of the depressed person is equally affected, especially because depression disrupts communication and social patterns in romantic relationships.

The mood of the depressed spouse contributes to the mood of the partner who is not depressed.  For example, the spouse who is not depressed may make excuses when the depressed spouse doesn’t participate in family functions or must take over most of the family responsibilities.

Caring for a depressed spouse can feel lonely and emotionally draining.  You might blame yourself or feel hopeless, or even consider walking away.


It is normal for you to feel angry and frustrated, especially when your depressed spouse constantly pessimistic and angry. Or he or she doesn’t help with household chores, getting the kids to bed, or ask how you are doing or acknowledge how you have been trying to hold everything together alone.

All the stress starts a cycle that leaves you burned out, doesn’t help your partner, and further strains your relationship.

You want to protect your relationship and help your depressed spouse, but you don’t know where even to start, and if it is possible, especially when spouse won’t admit they need help or outright refuses help.

How to Deal With a Depressed Spouse

It is understandable you want to help your partner, but the first you need to do is help yourself. Here are five things to keep in mind as you cope with the depression of a spouse or partner.

Don’t Take It Personally

Your partner’s behavior and mood have nothing to do with you, so don’t take it to heart.  Even if you are being rejected emotionally or sexually, it has nothing to do with anything you have done.

When someone is depressed, the depression takes over and forces them to take out their anger and sadness out on the people they love most.

Unless your partner is hurting you or your children by saying or doing hurtful things or being abusive, there is not a lot you can do control the situation. And if there is abusive or hurtful behavior, you have a right to stand up for yourself and not be a punching bag.

Educate Yourself About Depression

It is important to learn all you can about depression, especially the symptoms, the different types of depression, and treatments. It is up to you, the person who isn’t depressed, to do the research and help the one you love.

Be Realistic and Ask for Help

You cannot cure depression or make it go away. All you can do is be supportive and understanding.

If your partner were physically ill, you wouldn’t hesitate to ask for help, and asking for help in this instance shouldn’t be any different. Ask loved ones for help so that you don’t end up burning yourself out.

Next page: More tips on how to help your spouse with depression, and more.

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