We all know what depression is and how it affects the life of the person who is experiencing it. We also know that it involves the family members who have close contact with the person who is affected by it.
Clinical or Major Depression is a more serious issue, since it is practically a constant state of depression. It is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, with an estimated 17.3 million adults, or 7.1% of the population, experiencing at least one major depressive episode in a given year. With the added stress of COVID-19, those numbers are expected to increase, since all the things we considered as “normal” have change, and the “new reality” is hard for most people.
What is depression?
While there are different types of depression, major depressive order is the most common in America, and unlike sadness and grief, which are normal human emotions, depression is characterized by persistent symptoms that interfere with the ability to carry out day to day activities, negatively impacting our work and relationships. There is no single cause leading to depression, with life experiences, genetics, brain chemistry, and environment. There are many factors that can trigger depression.
Clinical or Major depression has been classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a period of at least two weeks when a person experiences five or more of the following symptoms, with at least one being depressed mood, or loss of interest or pleasure: depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day; noticeable loss of interest or pleasure in activities; significant weight loss or weight gain; insomnia or oversleeping; restlessness; fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day; feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt; inability to concentrate or make decisions; recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying).
How does depression affect marriage?
In marriage, we vow to support our spouse through sickness and in health, and when a mental health issue arises it can be one of the most challenging illnesses to face as a couple or family. For the person suffering depression, seemingly simple tasks such as taking a shower, making a meal, or driving to the store, can become overwhelming or near impossible. Research shows that depressed patients spend as many days in bed as people with chronic medical conditions.
For the other partner, the significant changes to their spouse’s mood, energy, and behavior, can lead to a great sense of loss for the healthy and vibrant partner they know so well, and often a feeling of helplessness. The spouse can witness the change the depressed partner has suffered.
Suffering from depression is a more and more common issue nowadays. The stress we live on daily basis with financial, work, and health issues, just to name a few, has affected people regardless their social status, religion, or conditions in general. We all feel the pressure, we all feel the pain, we all feel burdens falling upon our shoulders. Maybe we feel tired, maybe we feel overwhelmed, maybe we feel depressed.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you felt this way? Or maybe, have you seen how your spouse is fighting depression? You are not alone. Even in the Bible we can find people like David, Joseph, Job, who experienced sadness and sorrow in their lives. In job’s story we can see how his own wife could not stand seeing him rocking bottom. But they all had something in common, they sought God to overcome the pain and sadness. They found in God their refuge to cope and to move forward. But it is not an easy task.
You may be wondering if there is something you can do to not let depression ruin your marriage, and there is. First of all, motivate your spouse to seek God’s help in His Holy Word, there are beautiful verses in which we can find the strength to talk to God, to ask Him for help, to ask Him to hold our hand while we go through the tough time. You can also help your spouse seek professional help is needed, so that both of you can have the emotional tools you need to overcome the crisis.
There are ways for us to help our loved ones overcome depression, the crisis and the tough times they could be living. Do you want to learn other ways you can help your spouse or a close relative to deal with depression? I invite you to read our next post, so that you can have a broader picture of what we can do to help them feel better. God bless you.
 National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml
 US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394420/S