If your relationship is making you depressed, it’s possible you haven’t even connected that fact yet. Or you might not know what to do about it. All you know is that it feels confusing, exhausting, and lonely.
Psychiatrist and investigator Dr. Alan Teo explains that “only 7% of people are depressed at any given time. But half of couples therapy clients have at least one depressed spouse” (Dashnaw, 2018).
These numbers point to the fact that relationships are incredibly influential to your mental and emotional wellbeing. If your relationship with your partner is struggling–or worse, is toxic–your physical and mental health will struggle too.
And when you’re struggling, it’s hard to be supportive of your partner in return.
Maybe you’ve been with your partner a while now, and you love each other. But you can’t seem to shake the heavy tiredness you feel when he or she is around. Maybe you’re falling into more and more bad habits as distraction.
You might secretly long for the time when they leave each day, or you might wonder why you think you need another glass of wine when you’ve already had two.
Maybe you’re sleeping more than normal and still feel tired, or you have trouble believing in yourself like you used to.
These could all be signs that your relationship is making you depressed.
If you feel like you’re floating alone on a turbulent sea, wishing your partner would reach out their hand for you, it’s time to do something.
Signs Your Relationship is Making You Depressed
1. You feel neglected or ignored
Sometimes you spend your days feeling like a puppy, following your partner around and begging them to give you a sign of affection. But it seems like they just don’t care. Or like you’re not good enough.
Some partners become too consumed in work or another pursuit and lose sight of you. Then you’re the one left to manage the household, or the only one to suggest date nights, or to make sure the dog gets walked.
Over time, this contributes to frustration, resentment, and even low self-esteem.
2. Your partner is relentlessly critical of you
Speaking of self-esteem, nothing is more demeaning than if the closest person to you has nothing but critical words to say. And when those criticisms pile up, they leave you feeling like you’ve been crushed by a rockfall.
When you can’t get the support you crave, and your partner is critical of the things you say, it’s no wonder you don’t feel like you can be vulnerable with that person.
3. You’ve lost confidence in yourself
Often, endless criticism can lead to losing confidence in yourself. Perhaps you don’t participate in some of the things you used to enjoy any more out of fear that maybe they’re right. Your partner is putting you down all the time, making it clear you’re not good enough. You start to doubt yourself and feel anxious about your abilities. This is a hallmark sign of your relationship making you depressed.
4. You feel like you can’t express your thoughts and feelings
You’re constantly monitoring what you say for fear of making your partner angry. Sometimes even their expression is enough for you to stop talking.
You feel very lonely and shut down. In some cases, these feelings bleed over into reluctance to share your thoughts and feelings with other support sources, too.
5. You’re relying heavily on negative coping habits
At some point, you realize your normal Friday evening Netflix binge has turned into a full weekend in front of the TV, or your usual alcohol consumption is on the rise. Maybe you’re going to bed earlier and waking up later just to find some relief from the pressure of the relationship.
These negative coping habits are misplaced self-care attempts. You’re trying to do something to feel better, but they’re not helping the root cause of the issue–your relationship.
6. You have nagging health issues
Depression affects everything from insomnia, to cardiovascular health, to your immune system. You may be suffering more colds than normal, or having trouble sleeping, or experiencing intestinal or digestive issues (Pietrangelo, 2019).
Any of these can be linked to depression and present a potentially serious health risk. But the good thing is that you can treat depression successfully.
How Couples Therapy Can Help if Your Relationship is Making You Depressed
Individual counseling is very effective for treating depression (APA, 2010). But it doesn’t have to be you working on this alone. Partner support is one of the most crucial elements to overcoming difficult situations in your life.
Just as you and your partner would work together to tackle any significant health issues, you can work together on changing your relationship so that it’s no longer a source of unhappiness and depression.
There’s one type of therapy that has proven especially effective for couples.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), developed by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980s, can help you and your partner reconnect and learn how to support each other again. In a two-year study, couples who used Emotionally Focused Therapy saw improvement in the quality of their relationships and satisfaction with their relationships beginning with counseling and lasting over the course of the next two years (Wiebe & Johnson, 2017).
Couples therapy can help you and your partner regain trust and open communication. It can help you resolve conflicts. And it can help you identify needs that aren’t being met to become supportive in the way the other person needs.
Try EFT Couples Counseling with Dr. Irena
Dr. Irena offers online therapy for women and couples in Texas and New York City. As a certified EFT therapist, she helps couples develop the emotional connection that can be instrumental in supporting a partner who is experiencing depression. She has helped couples grow together and strengthen their relationships through all varieties of challenges.
If you would like to schedule a session, email Dr. Irena for a free 10-minute video consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (281)-267-1742.
Dashnaw, D. (Sept. 13, 2018). Unsupportive Spouse Depression. Couplestherapyinc.com. https://couplestherapyinc.com/unsupportive-spouse-depression
Pietrangelo, A. (Oct. 22, 2019). The Effects of Depression in Your Body. Healthline.com. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/effects-on-body#Cardiovascular-and-immune-systems
APA.org. (2010). Depression. https://www.apa.org/topics/depression/recover
Wiebe, S. A., Johnson, S. M., et al. (2017). Two‐year follow‐up outcomes in emotionally focused couple therapy: An investigation of relationship satisfaction and attachment trajectories. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 43, 227– 244. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12206