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5 signs your spouse is depressed (and how to help)
Know when it's time to get help. - photo by Callie Hansen
Depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide. According to the ADAA, depression is an illness that makes someone feel useless, discouraged, unmotivated and hopeless. These feelings can easily be passed off as a case of the blues, but if they inhibit daily activities like going to work or negatively affect relationships with family and friends, your spouse may have a more severe case of depression. Depression not only affects your spouse, but can harm your marriage and other relationships if left untreated.

Depression shows itself in many forms and not all the signs are easy to see. Some have depression more severely than others but all need help and treatment just the same. According to studies on depression and marital satisfaction, if your spouse is depressed, it increases dissatisfaction in your marriage and can lead to divorce. To help your spouse and strengthen your marriage, first you need to recognize the signs of depression:

1. Isolation

If your spouse isolates himself from you and frequently says he wants to spend time alone, its a sure sign something is wrong. Your spouse should want to talk to you and be able to communicate his problems to you. In order for a marriage to thrive you must be able to communicate with each other. If he is wallowing in his sorrows and avoiding you, reach out to him to see if hell open up.

2. Critical and negative attitude

Having a critical and negative attitude is not only destructive for a marriage but demeans and belittles others. Someone who is suffering with depression can't easily be optimistic about life or the future. Therefore, they only say critical and negative comments. This is a telltale sign of depression.

3. High stress level

Your spouses stress level is critical to identifying depression. Stress can be easily identified in a your spouse by how flustered and frustrated he is. If your spouse expresses how difficult work or school is and is constantly frustrated by these issues, he may be depressed. Take his comments seriously and do what you can to talk to him. Be willing to listen if he is willing to talk to you about his stress level.

4. Fatigue or irregular sleep patterns

Little sleep can make your spouse irritable as it is, but when it happens frequently, its a serious problem. Getting enough sleep every day is essential for the bodys physical and mental health. It affects someones ability to focus and their ability to perform necessary tasks. On the other side of the spectrum, over-sleeping can be a sign of clinical depression. With this illness comes a lack of motivation, making sleep an easier option than getting out of bed for the day.

5. Anger or hostility

If your spouse is frequently arguing with you and getting into fights, its a sure sign something is wrong. Similar to lack of sleep and having a critical or negative attitude, a combination of these two things can intensify emotions and lead to increased anger and hostility toward others. It is difficult to work with and love a hostile spouse, so seeking professional help is necessary in order to help your partner and your marriage.

If your spouse is experiencing any one of these five things on a daily basis that keep him from being happy, its time to get him help.

The good news is there are treatments for depression that work. Your spouse can get better and return to his old, loving self. Talk to your doctor about options that are right for you and your spouse so he can get treatment.

In the meantime, there are things you can start doing now to help your spouse on his road to recovery:

Love him unconditionally

Marriage is a two-way street. You need each other to live, learn and grow in life. If one side of the partnership weakens, the other must do whatever possible to pick them back up. When your spouse has depression he is in a vulnerable position. No matter the things he says to you, you must love him unconditionally and make sure he knows you love him. Be straightforward about how much you care. He needs constant, clear signals that someone loves him and cares for him. For someone with depression, knowing at least one person their life cares about them makes a huge difference.

Be there for him

Its easy to want to distance yourself from your spouse, especially if he is being hostile or negative toward you. Of course, be willing to give your spouse space when he needs it, but more often than not he will need you there to lean on. You may be surprised how willing he is to talk as long as he knows youre willing to listen. Make sure he knows that you will always be there for him when he needs somebody to talk to or lean on.

Have a plan for the bad days

Everyone has their ups and downs. When your spouse has a low day, make sure you have a game plan. Have something prepared to help lift his spirits and improve his mood. It can be anything from yoga to watching his favorite movie. Make sure its something your spouse loves and cares about, otherwise it may not work. Having alternative activities to do on the bad days is a step in the right direction to help your spouse return to his old self and be much happier about life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit their website at