How Does Depression Affect a Marriage?

Depressed Woman

Depression is a condition that not only affects the sufferer alone, but the immediate social network around him or her. If left untreated, this condition can have a negative impact on every aspect of a person’s life such as friendships, domestic life and work. Research shows that spouses tend to have an unhappy marriage if one of the spouses suffers from depression. This is because living with a depressed spouse can drain you mentally or emotionally. Though a precursor to divorce or separation, depression by itself isn't the main reason for a divorce but rather than refusal to acknowledge or deal with the root cause of the condition.

Loss of Purpose in Life

Depending on the stage of depression, the depressed partner may despair and give up on life. He or she may sleep too much or too little, or overeat or eat too little, and find it difficult to concentrate or hold a meaningful conversation. Suddenly, such spouse will find solace in sleeping too much and neglect tasks that need to be done, and hence lose interest in doing anything meaningful with his or her life. This breeds resentment and anger in the other non-depressed spouse who feels that he or she is doing everything for the family and the society as a whole alone.

Unhappiness in the Marriage

A depressed spouse views the world through dark lens such that any negative experience is interpreted magnified to appear worse than it really is. Such a spouse will also constantly overlook the positive experiences and also interpret neutral occurrences negatively. Unless the non-depressed spouse is understanding and sympathetic, this perspective can result in unavoidable conflicts in the relationship and possibly ruin the marriage.

Loss of Sexual Intimacy

One major depression symptom is anhedonia, which is a condition in which a person loses interest in activities that he or she once enjoyed. Sex is one of the most common activities that a depressed individual will lose interest in. There are varying reasons for the loss of sexual desire, but it is mostly due to the lethargy, fatigue and the desire to be left alone that is associated with the depression. Physiologically, depression affects the neurotransmitters that communicate with each other to stimulate the flow of blood to sexual organs, leading to low sex drive, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The non-depressed spouse may mistakenly conclude that their partner no longer has any affection for him or her, which can potentially ruin the marriage if not addressed on time. Moreover, if one spouse is depressed, the non-depressed partner may be susceptible to depression, making both of them losing the desire to be intimate with each other.

Blame Game

Depression places undue strain on a couple, mostly due to the extra baggage it brings with it such as declining intimacy, communication breakdown and loss of joy at home. This creates a fertile ground for the onset of a blame game, whereby the non-depressed partner may feel that he or she is spending too much energy to keep the relationship afloat. Everyone has his or her own flaws hence it is imprudent to start pointing fingers at your partner, who most likely will withdraw to himself or herself, spelling doom for your relationship. The key is to communicate more often and visit a therapist or psychologist together.


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