Married to Depression

The therapy session with Michael started just like any other. He ruminated for the zillionth time about the meaningless of life, a symptom of his clinical depression.

Ordinarily, he was a pleasure to work with because of his high intellect and psychological mindedness. However, he was also very stubborn regarding medication.

Michael had a family history of clinical depression and was genetically predisposed to it. This last depression was lasting for months and he was stubbornly refusing to take medication. He was convinced that if he couldn’t fight his depression with psychotherapy alone it would be proof to him that he was weak. I often told him that psychotherapy in conjunction to pharmacotherapy is the best therapy approach to clinical depression.
Nothing I could say could convince him.

He suddenly announced that he had asked Ariadni, his wife of 14 years, for a divorce because she was not as emotionally supportive of him as she had been in the past.
I gently said that perhaps this was not a good time for him to be making such life altering decisions, and suggested that his depression is probably taking a toll on his wife as well.

Upon my suggestion, his wife joined him for our next session.

In the joint session, she revealed that it had gotten more and more difficult for her to be understanding to Michael. It had become increasingly more difficult to hear the same problems again and again. It had become more difficult to know where she fit into his life, and more difficult to see hope. “I want to have people over” she said, “ and you never feel like it. And we don’t even go out anymore. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having no life. What in the world has happened to you? Everything is always about you” she shrieked.

It was obvious that Ariadni missed the companionship she once shared with Michael.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common in the spouse of a depressed person.

If your spouse is depressed, there are steps you must take to protect yourself. If he or she has not sought treatment, insist that they do, and if necessary make the appointment for them. Find a counselor of your own because your emotions are more than you can talk out with a friend. Get out of the house regularly and engage in an activity that you enjoy. Engage in regular exercise in order to keep your stress under control, and do not resort to using substances such as drugs or alcohol to deal with your feelings.
Understand that depression is an illness and not the depressed person’s fault