Depression and Divorce
How does depression affect marriage and relationships?
Unraveling the Roots of Depression
Some depression is transient, such as when a partner loses a parent or other
family member. Within a few weeks, typically, the person feels a bit
Other times, the depression might continue or reoccur several times. Having
a history of depression makes it more likely to have another episode, says
Clayton. "With the first depression, we can usually link it to some event," she
says, such as job loss, or a serious medical problem. "We can identify a
"The more episodes you have, the less likely it is linked to an event," she
says, perhaps because of underlying brain changes.
Getting Help for Depression in Marriage: What Works?
If a couple decides that professional counseling is needed, the depressed
partner may want to go alone first, Jones says. Or, he has found that some
nondepressed partners try to persuade the depressed person to get help and the
partner won't go.
Seeing a therapist together can give a couple valuable perspective, he says.
"The therapist mediates," he says. "It's not a blaming session, but rather the
therapist helps the depressed person recognize they are contributing to [the
problem]. If they improve the depression, they could improve the marriage."
In a study, Italian researchers reviewed the data on whether couple therapy
was a better way to treat depression in one partner and found no difference
between couple therapy and individual therapy on the symptoms of depression.
But couple therapy better reduced "relationship distress," they report in the
journal Psychiatric Quarterly.
Often, talking about the depression -- whether alone or with a partner in
therapy -- brings up other issues in a marriage that, when addressed, help ease
the depression, Sherman says.
Combining Talk Therapy With Antidepressants for Depression
If depression doesn't improve with behavior or talk therapy, a physician may
decide to prescribe an antidepressant, or may prescribe it along with the
Antidepressant medications can help, Clayton says. "Medications and therapy
are often very useful." If the depression is milder, one or the other may be
enough, she says; if it is more severe a combination treatment may be