Depression: Effects on couple relationships
Doctors and care workers across Europe are increasingly coming in contact with clients who are suffering from some form of depression. According to a study by the Insight Research Group, requests for anti-depressants in the UK have risen 28% from 32m prescriptions in 2007 to 42.4m in 2011.
Europe’s debt crisis and austerity measures are cited as the main cause of depression and suicide in the region. The Insight Research Group’s study also found that out of 300 UK family doctors, 76% said their patients were unhealthier due to the economic climate.
Depression can have a huge impact on a person and their work, home and social life can suffer as a result. If that person is in a couple relationship, the illness can affect both people.
Strain can be put on the couple’s sex life and on how well they get on with one another. Arguments can occur more frequently. In general, communication is likely to become more difficult. People can be shocked by the changes in their partner’s behaviour or personality. These changes can also affect the way they relate with their partner and/or their children.
Even when the person is on the mend, issues can arise: “One of the difficulties of living with depression is that it may not follow a linear path to recovery,” explains Aileen McWey, Head of Services at mental health charity SANE. “The condition may recur; it may also fluctuate. For instance, at times people may feel relatively positive, or that the condition is manageable; at other times they may feel very low, despondent and perhaps hopeless.”
Another challenge may be presented by the fact that support and treatment options may themselves contribute to fluctuations in mood and outlook, continues McWey: “It may take time to find the right medication. Talking treatments such as counselling or therapy may result in a range of responses if difficult or painful feelings or situations are being addressed.”
It can be hard for a person who has depression to acknowledge that they have the illness or seek help for it. Sometimes, the person’s partner may contact you first for help and advice.
In these cases, there are resources you can direct them to such as the Supporting a Partner With Depression page on theCoupleConnection.net where they will find tips on how to effectively support their partner during this difficult time in their relationship.