15 Feb

2020, a year we will never forget. It was a year that ushered in a lot of heavy things, disease, fear, chaos, change, and let’s not forget, depression. Relatively soon after the pandemic hit rates of depression (and anxiety) tripled. And if that wasn’t bad enough, here we are a few years later and those rates have still been climbing beyond that. 

The most vulnerable adults to deal with depression are those with lower incomes and the unmarried. Being that your spouse, or perhaps yourself, that might be suffering is married, you’ve got some extra help and support. And that is exactly what your spouse needs if they’re struggling with depression. 

So, let us get real practical with helping you deal with a spouse and their depression. As therapists we could get into all the symptoms and the DSM V diagnostic criteria, but the reality is, you can google the symptoms. And that is exactly what step one is, educate yourself with depression. It doesn’t always look like someone down in the dumps who can’t get out of bed, so be sure to get informed. The more you learn, the more you can understand them, and the more empathy you can bring to the table.

Step two is to talk to them about it. Depression is not something you want to sweep under the rug or wait for them to snap out of. Engage them, let them know you want to help, that you care about them, and that you’re willing to walk with them through this. Become an active listener. 

Thinking and acting is something that is very difficult for someone with depression. There can be a sense of constant overwhelm making them want to hide, to feelings of just numbness or emptiness leaving them struggling to put two full sentences together.

This is where step three comes in, help them take action. Let them know you will go to the doctor with them. Set up a counseling appointment and attend alongside them if they want. There are several treatments for depression and medication doesn’t always have to be one of them. Encourage them that depression is highly treatable and that they will have control of their treatment options.

You also want to engage in step four which is to create a healthy home environment. Add in daily or nightly walks with them. You’re not trying to fix them, you’re just trying to create healthy habits with them. Plan some healthy meals and cut out the sugars if possible. Create as much of a low stress environment as you can. Structure is the best way to do this. Play worship music throughout your home and have it become a safe and encouraging haven. This will do you all good.

Lastly, remember that just like a broken arm or leg, depression is not a faith problem either. Believers struggle with depression too.

The difference is, we don’t have to be bound to it because we have an eternal hope as followers of Jesus. He meets us in our darkest places, remind your spouse of that. Pray over them, claim scripture over them, and just let them know you love them and aren’t going anywhere.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and don’t take responsibility for their healing. Your job is to love them where they’re at and to help support them into getting the help they need. 

This article was reposted and used with permission from Expedition Marriage

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