Last updated: Sep 16, 2010
If you have a loved one with serious depression, you may end up in a dark mood yourself, with depression symptoms like irritability, sadness, and anger. In fact, social networks research has found that those who have a spouse, sibling, or friend whos depressed are nearly twice as likely to be depressed themselves.
Depression can be especially daunting if it affects your life partner or spouse since you spend so much time together and are so emotionally invested in their well-being.
Communicationor lack thereofoften helps fuel the spread of depression. If the depressed partner withdraws emotionally or ceases to be affectionate, it can be even more damaging than angry outbursts, and can trigger hostility, irritability, frustration, rejection, and sadness in the non-depressed partner, says Jack.
• Self-blame. You assume youre responsible for the changeand the resulting relationship problems.
• Demoralization. A “mirror image of depression itself,” Sheffield says.
• Resentment and anger. Fed up with how youre being treated, you respond in a way that resembles your partners anger.
• Desire for escape. You just cant take it anymore and consider leaving the relationship.
If a couple has children, one parents depression can trickle down and affect them as well.
How to prevent the spread of depression
If you have a partner or family member whos depressed, the first order of business is making sure he or she gets the appropriate treatment. This usually means seeing a mental health professional and considering antidepressant medication, therapy, or both.