When we deliver our wedding vows, we speak about accepting our partners through better and for worse and seeing them through sickness and health. Well, my dear friends, it is not unlikely that at some point during your union your partner will deal with that energy-draining and life-sucking difficulty called depression. And, you have promised to be there, remember? Let me tell you that this will not be easy for either of you. While your partner is sad, irritable and lethargic, you may feel frustrated, ineffective and even a bit angry. You may wonder what you can do to fix things. Slow down. Not so fast here.
Depression is by no means an easy issue to deal with. Armed with patience, love and hope, you are in a much better position to help your spouse. Remember the two of you are a team and a team effort is very powerful. I have several suggestions for how to help a depressed spouse. Consider the list below:
1. Be patient. Depression reaches deeply into the heart and soul of your loved one and remember that she did not choose to be depressed. All of us are capable of succumbing to depression. It has nothing to do with weakness or with strength.
2. Do a lot more listening than talking. It is very comforting to be listened to. Frankly, in our lives people do a lot more talking than listening. We can all attest to this. There is something very comforting about being with a spouse who is listening so that she can understand. More than anything in life we all want to be understood. So have a seat near your spouse and simply listen.
3. Offer to take your spouse to get treatment and accompany him/her to the appointment. You may even want to go into the therapy session so that you can offer information and get support for yourself. Your spouse needs to get the correct diagnosis. There are several different types of depression and good treatment is the result of an accurate diagnosis.
4. Remember that an individual struggling with an episode of depression is not depressed at every moment. During those moments when your spouse seems to be getting a little reprieve get her out of her head and instead get her out to get some fresh air. Even a short walk or going out for a delicious cup of tea may be a tremendous treat. We all know that when we are under the weather being stuck in our heads with our negative thoughts never leads to anything good. Similarly, a depressed individual is often stuck in his or her head and this leads to a distressing and exhausting cycle of negative thoughts and increasing depression.
5. Keep in mind that your spouse’s depression may cause tension in your relationship, but it can also be an experience that brings you closer. The hope is that you will prevail as a team and the depression will dissipate.
Finally, remember to take care of yourself while you are helping your spouse. You can’t care for others if you are depleted. Good luck.