There is no clinical data that directly links depression to divorce. There are, however, countless mental health professionals who will tell you that depression, left untreated, can have a disastrous effect on a marriage, which often leads to divorce.
The consequences of untreated depression can be far reaching. While depression itself isn’t usually the issue, the condition can often lead to other problems. For example, sometimes a depressed spouse becomes distant, and then the remaining spouse who feels abandoned and unloved, has an affair. However that that isn’t the only example of how depression can cause marital strife. Sometimes a very depressed spouse stops working, and the loss of income can cause enormous stress for a family. Other times they stop caring for children properly, or stop doing their share of the house work, which can put an undue burden on the other spouse.
Apparently the cycle is similar for many families: One spouse develops depression and then tunes out their partner and the rest of the family. Their appetite and sleeping patterns change, resulting in over or under eating, and insomnia or sleeping for long periods. At first the other spouse tries to be understanding and helpful, but as time goes on and they are left to increasingly pick up the slack, especially with children, resentment and anger often begin to develop.
As WebMD suggests, if depression affects one person in a marriage, it will affect both spouses. Once resentment is a factor, couples often struggle to keep their marriages intact. Many seek out counseling in order to avoid divorce. But for many, the frustration and bitterness that come with having to carry your spouse’s responsibilities for long periods of time are the catalyst for divorce.
Unsurprisingly, mental illness in a marriage often leads to divorce.
Common as this may be, though, the depressed person often feels responsible, but feels like they can’t do anything about it. In many cases, people suffering from clinical depression don’t know why they are depressed. Lack of interest in their spouse as a person, loss of sexual appetite, and disinterest in social interactions are further sources of strain on the marriage.
Depression tends to come in two forms. The first is a more transient type that tends to happen in the wake of the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. It’s normal, and usually begins to lessen after a few weeks. The other variety is a greater struggle for most people, as it is recurring and often lasts for months. Individuals who suffer from this variety often have multiple episodes over time. Additionally, having a history of depressive episodes makes it more and more likely that it will happen again.
Disheartening as this may sound, all is not lost. Many experts say that with patience, good communication, and a dedication to addressing the problem, couples can pull through. Obviously, there are many factors involved in the solution, including therapy, medication and a healthy dose of compassion. Only a professional will be able to provide those, so if you and your spouse are struggling to overcome depression in your marriage, we encourage you to seek out help from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.
In the follow up article, we will be looking at some other ways that couples are affected by this difficult issue, and points to consider before ending a marriage because of depression. If however, your marriage has already reached the point of no return, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled family law attorneys will help you to pick up the pieces and carve out a new and brighter future for yourself.