Getting help with depression starts with identifying it, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It’s not always clear when a low mood is a typical sadness or grief and when depression has taken hold. Sometimes depression hides behind other emotions like anger, which makes it harder to identify.
These are some signs that your spouse may be depressed:
Their conversation indicates that they feel hopeless, powerless or worthless.
They may use disparaging terms to refer to themselves or say things like, “Why bother? Or “It won’t matter” when referring to actions they could take. They may indicate that they experience unwarranted guilt or take responsibility for things that aren’t their fault. If they indicate that they feel suicidal, this is an obvious and urgent sign of a need for help.
They no longer seem to find joy in things they once did.
Your spouse may have stopped hanging out with friends or working out. They may have a lowered sex drive.
Their sleeping and eating patterns change.
Do they have insomnia or are they sleeping the day away? Or Maybe they are beginning to overeat or, more often, have less of an appetite.
They have trouble concentrating or making decisions.
Focus may not have been an issue for them in the past.
They may be more angry or irritable than normal.
The Mayo Clinic notes that this may indicate a need for depression help, especially in men.
Your spouse may take more risks than usual.
Sometimes people take risks when they stop valuing their life and health.
They drink more.
They drink more. Unfortunately, drinking to cope with depression is especially problematic because it leads to increased depression over time. It can also lead to alcohol dependence and the need for substance abuse treatment along with mental health treatment for depression. The health organization AFMC notes that alcohol increases the frequency of episodes of severe depression and that 30-50% of people who drink too much are depressed. Because it lowers inhibitions, drinking can also cause people to behave in ways that have negative consequences for jobs and relationships, which can worsen depression indirectly.
Having the Conversation
If you think your spouse needs help with depression, and it’s time to have a conversation about it, the Cleveland Clinic recommends using “I” statements like “I noticed” or “I’m worried.” It’s best to use straightforward, factual language that isn’t likely to make your spouse feel defensive.
It’s also important to listen well. It’s easy for us to fall into the pattern of becoming so focused on what we want to say that we fail to listen closely to what others are trying to communicate. Be aware of that tendency and pay close attention to your spouse’s words and body language. If they express resistance to the idea of getting help, try to understand what’s causing it, so that you can address it directly.
Communicating that you’re in this together is also important and can be very powerful. Depression can sap energy and make the thought of doing what needs to be done to get help seem overwhelming. Let your spouse know that you’re willing to assist with the process in whatever way they’re comfortable with. You can offer to research options, check insurance coverage, make calls or provide childcare or transportation.
Your spouse isn’t alone on this journey, and neither are you. We can help you navigate it and come out stronger and better on the other side. Give us a call at 1.844.675.1022, and let’s talk about mental health treatment options. Hope is waiting.