In exchanging marriage vows couples often promise to care for each other “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. Even though these vows were written before mental health was recognized in the field of medicine they are no less important when dealing with depression.
According to Roseann Bennett – a licensed family therapist and Co-Founder of The Center for Treatment and Assessment – chronic, untreated depression is one of the root causes of an unhappy marriage.
Bennett estimates that, in a given year, 7% of adults in the United States are affected with major depression; however, depression itself is rarely the cause of divorce. Emotional distance, sadness, and other symptoms of depression can leave a spouse feeling alone, abandoned, and unfulfilled which causes the relationship to deteriorate. Read more about Roseann Bennett of Center for Assessment and Treatment: Q&A
The spouse of the depressed person may experience symptoms of their own as the strain on the relationship grows. Anger and resentment may rise if the depressed spouse stops eating or starts overeating, no longer participates in family activities, stops working, or otherwise withdrawals from familial obligations.
In an interview with Ideamensch, Bennett says “The really tragic part, is that the depressed person often feels responsible, but they feel like they can’t do anything about it.”
Seeking professional help is crucial and a major step in getting the relationship back on track. Making that first appointment can be difficult and the depressed spouse may want to go alone at first but seeing a therapist together may give a couple valuable perspective on the issue. See Related Link for more information.
Often times the depressed spouse may fear judgement but Roseann Bennett wants to clarify that therapy is not about blaming or passing judgement, it is about helping the couple to recognize how they are contributing to the problem and what they can do to address these issues or behaviors.