As we often hear from members of The Depression Project's community, living with a depressed spouse can at times be challenging. And, for this reason, in this blog post, we'd like to share with you a variety of tips for living with a depressed spouse - as told, in their own words, by people in this situation.
Are you ready?
Tips For Living With A Depressed Spouse
- "Be compassionate. Listen to them to hear them - not to respond. Lay with them if they want. Give them space. Gently remind them when they are ready, that you are there for them. Remind them that they are 'OK' ... in other words, that they are good. I can't explain that very well ... my husband tells me when I'm down and in a very gentle voice, 'you are OK'. It helps me refocus. No matter what, just love them how they need it and never, ever tell them to just get happy or that they are attention seeking."
- "Sometimes it's nice just lying down with them and saying we don't need to talk, I am here and you are not alone. Let me know what you need when you are ready. This goes a long way to saying I support you, I know you don't need to be 'fixed' right now just loved because you are not loving yourself and I got you. This helps pull people out of the dark."
- "Accept that you can’t and are not responsible for 'fixing' them. Have boundaries but show compassion. Listen to hear not to respond. Encourage them to seek professional help and be willing to go with them as well."
- "Remember to practice self-care as a supporter. You can’t care for someone if you don’t look after yourself and have some time out."
- "Ensure they are taking their meds consistently, encourage them to attend counselling to try and stay well and remind them of their good days (it’s not going to be bad everyday)."
- "Learn all you can about depression. Be patient, understanding and loving, but remember to also take time out for yourself."
- "Be flexible with the schedule. Sometimes your spouse just cannot go out. Don't get mad at them. Treat them like they have the flu."
- "My husband knows that one thing that often turns a day around for me is a hot shower. He'll prep stuff and music and make sure that I am undisturbed by children. I feel seen and cared for without him having to say anything."
- "Listen to and support them. Don't disregard how they feel and tell them that they are crazy. That's what my ex did. He also told me that when 'he had depression', all his dad had to do was slap him on the back of the head and say 'smarten up!' and he was fine. Obviously he didn't have real depression if that's all it took."
- "The spouse who doesn’t have depression needs to make sure they have a support network for themselves. They also need to be able to vent, and to get some respite away from their depressed partner."
- "Exercise is an important part of my routine when my depression gets bad. So for me, it helps to set a time aside daily or every other day to go for a walk together or as a family, and talk about what’s going on and how to better deal with it to make things easier on both of us."
- "I encourage all spouses to be as my spouse has been with me. Kind, patient, understanding, gentle nudges, encouraging and just be loving. Our pain is at times debilitating."
- "Depression does not lift with comments like 'just cheer up' or 'stop crying'. Support in other ways - by helping them to eat properly, to have space and time, clean clothes, and company to just watch tv for a while."
- "Try to meet their physical needs as much as possible - good food, sponge baths, reading aloud ... whatever they might need to keep functioning. Taking care of household and family matters so they don't have to stress about those things is a big help."
- "The significant other needs to recharge often. They need guidance as well on how to live with depression as a support person. They need to make sure they care for themselves and get away periodically and self-care."
- "Kindness and understanding goes a long way, but also helping them to help themselves. Getting them outside for sunshine, walks, quiet time with nature… it doesn’t have to be going out with a tonne of people… but helping them help themselves to get things done can be good for them. I know it is for me."
- "Be kind, be gentle and remember above all that a spouse's depression is usually nothing to do with them and they shouldn't feel hurt by it or take it personally."
- "Keep telling them it’s a 'bad day' even if they don’t really get it. Between me and my husband it’s called a 'blue day' and he knows that means little will have been done around the house and I’m not in a good place. He treats me like a queen and that is all that’s said."
- "Sometimes your spouse just needs to be held, just needs a listening ear, and different intimacy than just sexual."
- "Be patient and kind. Do not assume that you are the reason for the depression. Do not take it personally. Be encouraging. And, encourage them to get the help they need to get better."
- "Listen, don't judge. Accept that there will be times where circumstances trigger it worse but times when it seems there's no explanation. Sit down and talk to see if there are factors in your lives where stress can be reduced or big decisions might need to be made that might make things better."
- "As others have said, taking care of the 'little things' when they're in a depressive episode can make a big difference - doing the groceries, the dishes, taking the trash out, etcetera. All of those things can be really overwhelming to someone with depression who finds it difficult just to get out of bed."
- "If your spouse has depression, then try to understand depression as well as you can - e.g. by reading books about it, watching videos on Youtube, etcetera. The more you understand depression, the easier it is to deal with it together."
If your spouse has depression, then we hope you find some of these suggestions helpful ❤️
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.