Depression in Relationships

By Sarah Dale, MSc., RP (Q)

Have you noticed a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, energy, appetite, and less engagement with others? Has there been a decline in your ability to focus at work or home, maintain routines or memory loss? Do you feel empty, hopeless, worthless, or that life is losing its meaning? These are some common symptoms of depression that can manifest in both men and women and impact the level of connectedness and intimacy in romantic relationships.  Depression impacts both the person experiencing the symptoms and their partner, as well as their relationship.

Common stressors that can contribute to depression individually and in relationships include financial stress, parenting challenges, separation and divorce, prolonged grief due to losses or trauma, and poor relationship quality. These stressors can cause individuals to feel isolated in their relationship, experience increases in blame and criticism, and lead to avoidance of emotional and physical intimacy. 

Couples therapy involves providing education on what depression looks like in daily life, as well as how it is expressed in a relationship or marriage. Therapy involves exploring how each partner has been impacted by depression in the relationship, as well as gaining more insight into stressors that contribute to and maintain depression and decrease connection between partners.  Therapy also involves creating a safe and trusting atmosphere in order to rebuild connection, reduce stressors, and improve problematic interactional patterns.  With the support of a trained couple therapist, couples impacted by depression can work to strengthen their relationship and help create resilience for the future.