The Real Reasons (That Nobody Tells You) About Why Therapists Don’t Accept Insurance

The Real Reasons (That Nobody Tells You) About Why Therapists Don’t Accept Insurance

When you’re thinking about starting therapy, it’s normal to have a lot of questions: What style of therapy is right for me? How do I choose a therapist? Do therapists take insurance?

Deciding to start therapy is a huge milestone in life. I’d even say it’s as big as getting married or starting a new job. I mean, think about it. What could be more important than committing to work on yourself and become the best version of yourself? Who you are and who you become influence every part of your life.

That’s why choosing the right therapist is SO important. It’s essential you and your therapist are a good fit and that the person you choose has the experience and expertise to get you to the next level in life, whether you’re working on career goals, relationships, self-exploration or all of the above.

One of the considerations you might take into account when looking for a therapist is whether that therapist accepts your insurance. 

So, Do Therapists Take Insurance?

For many people, whether or not a therapist takes insurance is a deciding factor when choosing someone to work with.

After all, you’re paying a premium every month for your insurance so why wouldn’t you want to use it? It can save you money on your session costs and it can help you narrow down your search by ruling out therapists who don’t accept your plan. You use your insurance for all other doctors so why not do the same for therapy, right?

Unfortunately, new therapy seekers with this belief are often confused and frustrated by the number of therapists they find that do not accept insurance. It can be really difficult to find someone that specializes in your area of need, is close to home, fits your personality, and accepts your insurance.

But why is it so hard? Why don’t therapists take insurance? 

Many consumers don’t realize that there are several downsides for both therapists and clients when using insurance to pay for therapy.

So what do private pay clients who are shelling out big bucks for therapy know that you don’t? Let’s dig deeper into the question, “do therapists take insurance?” and figure out why many don’t.

Two women sit in an office talking about do therapists take insurance

Here are 4 reasons why you should not use insurance to pay for therapy:

1. Less Confidentiality

Everyone knows that what happens in therapy stays in therapy. Your therapist is required to keep everything you say confidential no matter what, right? 

Wrong! When you use insurance to pay for therapy, your therapist is required to provide your diagnosis and treatment notes to your insurance company in order to get paid. This undermines the basic premise of therapy and also gives a lot more people access to private health information about you. 

If this is news to you, you’re not alone. It’s all written into the HIPAA document you get when you start therapy (or go to any doctor’s office) but most people don’t read all the fine print.

2. Higher Insurance Premiums

Even if you’re okay with your information being shared with your insurance company from a confidentiality standpoint, you probably didn’t realize that sharing this information can have unintended consequences in the future.

As mentioned above, your therapist has to provide your insurance company with your diagnosis to get paid. But what if you don’t have a mental illness? After all, many people seek therapy for personal growth and exploration, not because they are depressed or anxious or have a serious mental illness.

In the eyes of your insurance company, these are not valid reasons for seeking therapy on their dime. If you don’t have an actual diagnosis, they aren’t interested in paying for your sessions and will not continue to authorize future sessions.

This puts your therapist in an awkward and ethically challenging position if you don’t meet the criteria for a mental illness. 

How do therapists get paid by insurance? 

If you don’t have a diagnosis, he or she is left with choosing between 3 options.

  1.  Assign a diagnosis you don’t meet the criteria for so that your insurance company will continue authorizing sessions.
  2.  Discontinue therapy.
  3.  Continue to work with you without assigning a diagnosis but risk having claims denied and not getting paid for the work.
A man and woman sit and talk to a therapist after answering the question, "do therapists take insurance"

At this point, you are probably starting to understand why so many therapists don’t accept insurance.

Ok, so you might be wondering how this all relates to increased premiums for you.

Let’s say your therapist opts for option 1 and assigns you a diagnosis so that your insurance company will authorize future sessions. Maybe you meet criteria for a diagnosis, maybe you don’t. Either way, you now have a diagnosis on record with your insurance company.

When it comes time to renew your insurance or switch plans, your premiums could rise as a result of your “pre-existing condition.” In addition, you may be required to share your diagnosis in future job interviews, which is awkward, to say the least. I would like to add that it’s rare to have to disclose something like that for a job but it can happen in security, government, and some other professions.

3. Insurance-Driven Treatment Plan

When therapists take insurance, they are required to use treatment methods that are covered by your plan. This means they have less say in how to treat you based on your specific and individual needs. 

Ironically, the people who work in your insurance company and decide which methods of therapy can be used, are usually not even therapists! And they certainly haven’t met and assessed you personally like your therapist has.

This leads me to my next point…

4. Questionable Quality

Do therapists take insurance because they can’t build their practice otherwise? Possibly.

Let me preface this by saying that there are some fantastic therapists who take insurance. Sometimes highly skilled therapists accept insurance clients as a way to “give back” to society and offer high-quality services to those that wouldn’t be able to afford it any other way. 

If you don’t know anything about insurance payouts (and why would you if you’re not a therapist or a doctor?), this last statement probably doesn’t make sense. Bear with me while I help clear that up and give you some rarely discussed insider info from the therapist’s perspective.

The going rate for a great therapist in most major cities is between $150-$350 per session. Most insurance companies pay therapists between $40-$90 per session. This is a fraction of what therapists receive from private pay clients and it requires a lot more paperwork and time to get paid by insurance companies. Submitting insurance claims is time-consuming and confusing as is getting approved to be on insurance panels in the first place. Many therapists have to hire a billing professional to help them manage insurance claims and make sure they actually get paid.

So why do therapists take insurance if they get paid less and have to jump through paperwork hoops to get paid?

The answer is because they have to. Let’s explore this in more detail…

a man's hand writes on a white paper on a black clipboard while answering the question, "do therapists take insurance?"

Do Therapists Take Insurance Because They Have To?

Something that is rarely discussed with consumers is the fact that insurance companies provide a steady flow of referrals to therapists. Let’s take a moment to think about who might need a steady flow of referrals to their practice and would be willing to take a major pay cut for said referrals.

New therapists just starting a private practice. 

Therapists who just graduated usually have some serious student loans to pay off and they need to start making money fast. It can take time to build up a positive reputation in a community so getting referrals from insurance panels (even if it means making significantly less per client) is a great way to get started. 

Often, therapists who opt for this route will start phasing out insurance clients as their reputation grows and they start getting more organic referrals from satisfied customers.

Therapists who don’t want to market themselves.

Sometimes therapists get and stay on insurance panels for the bulk of their career because they prefer the safety of knowing they will always have referrals. Perhaps they don’t know how to market themselves, don’t want to invest in marketing, or are risk-averse and can’t or don’t want to risk having fewer clients when they are getting started as private pay.

Working with insurance long-term is more likely to lead a therapist to burnout because they are doing double the work for half the pay. There is a higher chance that this therapist will be overworked and less passionate about their work as a result.

Therapists in low-income areas. 

If there are very few clients that can pay full price for sessions in the area, therapists in private practice may opt to accept insurance or move to a community where there are more affluent people. For this reason, lower-income communities do not have a lot of therapists in private practice but they do have more government-subsidized community treatment centers where people can get help. 

This is a sad truth about the systemic issues and barriers that limit low- to moderate-income folks when seeking mental health care. If insurance companies paid therapists rates commensurate with the amount they have to spend on their education, many more therapists would opt to be in-network and many more people would have easily affordable therapy.

Therapists who do not have a lot of satisfied customers. 

As a therapist myself, this is a delicate situation for me to discuss and I suspect it will upset some of my colleagues. That said, the ones it offends are probably the ones who fall into this category. Many therapists who accept insurance do so because they are not good enough at what they do to facilitate referrals and command a higher fee.

Yep, I said it.

Satisfied customers talk. They leave positive reviews online. And tell their friends and family how happy they are with their therapist and they refer the people they love. They build their therapist’s practice for them by becoming walking billboards. Their friends and family start to notice positive changes in their personality and ask them what they are doing…and they tell them about their therapist.

Not only do satisfied customers refer to skilled therapists, other professionals do too. Medical doctors hear from their patients that they got great results working with a therapist and they send more patients. Other therapists who get asked by friends and family for referrals, send them to other skilled therapists in the community.

Why Therapists Don’t Take Insurance (And Why You Should Pay Them Anyway)

Therapists who don’t take insurance have to be really good in order to create and maintain a thriving practice. With therapy, you usually get what you pay for and if someone is charging a high fee, it’s usually because they are worth it.

Speaking of that price tag, I know it can feel scary to drop a couple of hundred dollars on a therapy session every week, especially if you don’t have a ton of disposable income. 

So, are therapists worth it?

What I’ve seen in my practice (and in many other settings besides therapy) is that those who pay the full fee and make a substantial investment, are actually more committed to doing the work than those who pay less.

Think about it. If you paid $20 for a meal or $200, would there be a difference in how you treated it? Would you rush through the $200 meal and then throw half of it away if you didn’t feel like eating anymore? I’m guessing not. You would savor that meal and ask to take anything you couldn’t eat home with you to enjoy later.

People who pay more for therapy are literally and figuratively more invested and it shows in their results. They make the most of every session, they do their homework, and they get great results. 

In my opinion, there is nothing worth more than your personal growth. If you take the work seriously, you will see your investment pay off in every area of your life. 

By the way, this is coming from someone who has spent a lot of money on personal growth. I truly feel it’s been worth every penny.

Two women sit and talk in chairs in front of a brick wall, enjoying a therapist session after determining, "do therapists take insurance?"

What to Do When Therapy Doesn’t Take Insurance

Ok, but what if you literally CANNOT afford to pay the full fee but you also want to make sure you get a great therapist? Fortunately, there is sometimes an in-between option.

Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed for out-of-network benefits. This can mean savings of up to 20-60%. This is typically available with PPO plans. To find out, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask how much your plan pays for out-of-network therapists.

Then, if you do have out-of-network benefits, ask your therapist if they can provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. You will pay your therapist for the sessions up front. Then, your insurance company will reimburse you for some of the session fees. 

Your therapist will still have to provide a diagnosis on your superbill in order for you to get reimbursed. Not every insurance plan has this benefit but it’s definitely worth a phone call to ask!

The other option is that you can use your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for therapy. This allows you to save money because you are paying with pre-tax dollars.

Finding The Right Therapist for You

So there you have it. That is the good, the bad, and the ugly of using your insurance to pay for therapy as I see it.

Still not sure how to find the therapist that is right for you? Consider your mental health needs and your schedule to determine if a specific type of therapy might work best. For example, virtual therapy or couples therapy might be an option.

Do online therapists take insurance?

It depends. Just like in-person therapy work, online therapists have to go through many steps to accept insurance as payment for their services. Finding an online therapist will be unlikely to affect how much you pay for therapy. It can help make it more accessible.

Do couples therapists take insurance?

Some do! Just like individual therapists, there are many couples therapists who accept insurance and many who do not. While it’s very valid for cost to be a factor when choosing a therapist, when it comes to couples therapy the most important thing is to make sure your therapist has experience helping couples through the challenges you and your partner are facing. It’s also important to ensure both you and your partner feel comfortable with the therapist you choose.

Explore online therapy with Couples Learn

Still have questions? We’d love to hear from you. You can contact Couples Learn at any time to ask questions or book a free consultation.

Have you used insurance to pay for therapy in the past? If so, how did it go for you? Let us know in the comments on this Facebook post.

10 Tips for Mind Blowing Sex

10 Tips for Mind Blowing Sex

At some point or another, the topic of sex always (ahem) comes up when I work with couples. It’s common to discuss better sex tips for couples in my sessions. Sex is a very important part of a healthy relationship and when it isn’t working right for both partners, problems can… arise. 

Interestingly, some studies even suggest that, regardless of the kinds of emotional problems troubling a couple, having good sex can increase their level of satisfaction with the relationship. It really can be that important!

So, in the interest of increasing satisfaction everywhere, let’s explore some top 10 sex tips for couples. Here’s to a better sex life!

A couple snuggles in bed after learning better sex tips for couples

10 Better Sex Tips for Couples You Can Try (Like Even Tonight)

Tips for mind-blowing sex don’t have to involve complicated positions (or complicated anything). Sometimes better sex tips are as simple as changing your mindset.

  1. Love Yourself

Your body is a temple. Love it and treat it right. Talk positively about your body. Don’t focus on your perceived flaws. Instead, focus on what you love about the skin that you’re in. Need some help in this department? My friend Lauren McAulay is an amazing self-love and body love coach. Check her out! 

  1. Know Yourself

Learn about your body. Discover what turns you on and be willing to communicate that to your partner. Explore your likes and dislikes by touching every part of your body and seeing what feels good. You may be surprised at how sensitive different areas of your body can be.

  1. Drop Judgments

Nothing ruins good sex like judgments. Leave the old beliefs in the past and see sex for what it is; a beautiful way for two people to connect with one another. Look at it this way; the better sex you have, the happier you will be. And the happier you are, the nicer you will be to others. So, really, having great sex is an act of service to humanity! Who could judge that?

  1. Banish Myths

Using porn as a measure of good sex is unrealistic, as is the idea that the absence of multiple orgasms means trouble. In fact, porn can be really detrimental to a relationship if used in the wrong way. Check out this presentation by my friend Greg Woodhill, MFT to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of porn. It’s important to know that good sex can mean anything from a satisfying quickie to a full night of romance. Don’t get too hung up on how things “should” be. Instead, focus on what feels right to you and your partner.

  1. Be Present

Stay in the moment and enjoy each sensation – this may be the most important of all the better sex tips for couples. Hold eye contact and focus on your breath as a tool to help you stay in your body. If outside thoughts interrupt you, just watch them pass, and then get back to the action. If you are having trouble staying in the moment, pretend you are an announcer at a sports game and run the play-by-play of what is happening in your mind. “And now he is kissing my neck…oh that feels so good. And now he is moving lower with his mouth…” You get the idea 😉

  1. Fantasize

Share your fantasies with your partner. Do you have a thing for guys dressed as Elvis? Tell him! Whatever it is, allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your desires. Have fun with it!

  1. Role Play

Pretend that you are his new professor or he is your waiter. Pick new roles to try and watch the sparks fly. Having a chance to play and pretend can do wonders for your creative self.

  1. Explore

Try a new position or a new destination. Or add in a new toy that you both will enjoy. Shake things up to avoid falling into a rut. Drive out to a scenic point and do it in the car. Or go camping and make love under the stars. Google different positions and try them out. You may even find a new favorite.

  1. Try Having Your Eyes Wide Shut

Experiment with a blindfold. This will not only increase the alertness of your other senses but it will also be a trust-building exercise. Plus, it’s a great way to play into the art of anticipation.

  1. Get Your Game On

What better way is there to remember that sex is supposed to be fun than to make a game out of it? Try incorporating strip poker or twister into your sexual repertoire. That way, no matter who loses, you both win!  

A couple lays in bed smiling at each other after trying some better sex tips for couples

Still Struggling With Your Sex Life?

If you’ve tried these better sex tips for couples without success or realize you need some professional help to have a better sex life, it might be time to consider online therapy.

Both couples therapy and individual therapy for relationship issues can help get to the root of any sex problems in your relationship. 

If you’re ready to learn more about ways to improve your sexual relationship, contact Couples Learn today. We’re here to help!

Want A Healthy Relationship? Learn To Dump Your Assumptions!

Want A Healthy Relationship? Learn To Dump Your Assumptions!

As a couple’s therapist, one of the things that always amazes me is how two different people can experience the same situation in completely unrelated ways. It’s one of the reasons assumptions in relationships can be so damaging.

When I ask a couple to tell me about something that happened, sometimes it seems impossible that both partners were at the same event, given the opposite nature of their stories. This reminds me that so much of what we experience comes from our own viewpoint, made up of our unique thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, color our world.

When it comes to thoughts that can wreak havoc in even healthy relationships, assumptions are a big one. 

What Is An Assumption?

An assumption is a belief that one person thinks is true but really has not been proven. We make assumptions all the time. When we meet someone new, our first impression of that person is a series of assumptions we form based on her appearance. How is she dressed? Does she make eye contact? Did she smile? It only takes a minute for our brains to answer these questions and form opinions.

Assumptions In relationships work much the same way. Say, for example, your partner tells you he’ll be working late one night. What is your first thought? If you grew up in a family where “working late,” was code for being unfaithful, then you might assume that your partner is lying. 

Even if he hasn’t given you any prior reason not to trust him, you still might assume the worst, because of your own past and the assumptions you created as a result. Do you see how this could ruin a perfectly good relationship?

A couple yelling at each other in a kitchen, arguing due to assumptions in relationships

Managing Assumptions in Relationships

In order to manage your assumptions in relationships and prevent them from ruining your partnership, you need to be willing to take a good look at your own beliefs. 

Where do they come from? How are they helping or hurting you? Do they hold up to questioning? What is the evidence that supports that belief? The evidence against it? Could there be another way of looking at things or an alternate explanation? 

By asking yourself these questions, you can better understand your personal assumptions and the effect that they are having on your relationship.

Now that you are aware that some of your beliefs may not be true, I’m going to tell you something that will make you feel better. Your partner’s beliefs are no better!

Both you and your partner are likely making assumptions about the other and the world in general. What seems like “the” answer or “the” situation to you, is just one of many viewpoints on the same situation. Thus, the best thing to do is to make it a habit to check in with each other to be sure that you are not making assumptions in relationships.

How to Know When Assumptions in Relationships Are Causing Problems

It may seem straightforward to check in with your partner about assumptions each of you may have in your relationship, but actually doing this is easier said than done.

For example, how do you know when it’s time to check-in? Do you set a weekly reminder to ask about assumptions? Or do you wait until you’re in a full-blown argument?

In reality, somewhere in between those two extremes is usually a good solution.

Anytime that you and your partner are having an argument where something doesn’t quite click or where his reaction to what you said seems really off, it’s probably a good time to ask him what he is thinking or whether he may be reacting based on an assumption (in a nice, non-threatening tone, of course).

For example, if you tell your significant other that you want to go to the mall and he responds by immediately faking the flu, you might want to look into that a little further. 

You could say something like: “It seems that what I said is having an effect on you. Could you tell me what you think I meant?” He might then say, “I know what going to “The Mall” means. You want me to buy you a ring!”

Well, now you know why he was faking the flu, but, clearly, the two of you have some other issues to discuss!

two women argue due to assumptions in relationships

Common Questions About Assumptions in Relationships

How do assumptions affect relationships?

As you can see in the example above, making assumptions in a relationship can really hinder your ability to communicate and connect with your partner. Making assumptions can lead to not only misunderstandings and arguments, but can even cause enough harm to end a relationship.

How would you react if it felt like your partner was always assuming the worst about you? You probably wouldn’t feel particularly connected or loving with them.

What causes assumptions in a relationship?

Many times, what causes assumptions in relationships is past experiences, either with your current partner or with past partners. If you were cheated on in a past relationship, for example, you might assume your partner is being unfaithful if they stay late at work or aren’t totally forthcoming about their weekend plans. For all you know, they’re planning you a surprise party! But if you accuse them of cheating every time they’re away, they likely won’t be in a very party-ready mood.

How do you stop relationship assumptions?

The best way to put a stop to assumptions in relationships is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Don’t hold your assumptions in – be honest! It’s better to share your assumptions or fears with your partner than let them (often incorrectly) shape the way you feel about your partner or your relationship.

Getting Help with Assumptions in Relationships

I’m going to assume, (see what I did there?) that reading this article has brought up some feelings about your own relationship. If you feel like you need additional support with managing assumptions in relationships, then couples therapy or individual therapy could help. 

If you’re ready to talk about your relationship, contact Couples Learn today for a free consultation.

Shared or Separate Finances: Which is Healthier For Your Relationship?

Shared or Separate Finances: Which is Healthier For Your Relationship?

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my work with couples, it’s that each couple is incredibly unique. What works for one couple may not work for others. Furthermore, what works for a couple at one time, may have an expiration date. This is often the case when it comes to deciding between joint or separate bank accounts in marriage.

When it comes to money in a relationship, there are so many decisions to make. 

  • Who will take responsibility for the finances?
  • Who will pay the bills? 
  • Where will that money come from? 
  • Will there be a savings account? 
  • Will there be a retirement fund? 
  • Will there be “fun money” to play with? 

And then there is the much-debated question: Will we keep a joint account, or will we each have our own separate bank accounts in marriage?

That last question is often debated because it carries a lot of psychological weight. But, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to. Let’s dive into this common question about money and marriage.

Should You Have Separate Bank Accounts?

Many people equate sharing money with trust or closeness in a relationship. But when you really look at the question of having joint or separate bank accounts when married, you’ll see that it’s not that simple. 

If you decide to keep a joint account, does that mean that you trust each other more than those that don’t? Does it mean you are closer than those that don’t? Does it mean you are willing to go “all in” and merge everything down to your last penny? 

If that’s the case, what does it say about a couple who is married with separate bank accounts? Do they trust each other less? Are they preparing for divorce by not marrying their money?

Certainly not.

It’s perfectly acceptable to take the judgment out of this decision and simply look at the logistics of joint vs separate bank accounts without it having to mean something about the quality of your relationship. 

Instead of questioning the deeper meaning of bank accounts and your marriage, consider both the downsides and benefits of having separate bank accounts.

Which method is easier for you as a couple? Which way makes the most sense financially? Let’s examine some specifics by talking about a couple of hypothetical situations.

A couple fights about joint or separate bank accounts in marriage.

What Separate Bank Accounts In Marriage Might Look Like

Couple A is made up of Bill and Jill. Bill works from home as a computer programmer. He is an independent contractor, not an employee, so he’s able to write off many of his home expenses. Jill is a realtor, so she’s also an independent contractor. However, the expenses she can write off are often different from the ones Bill can write off. Can you see how Bill and Jill might benefit from having separate accounts to make things simpler and maximize their tax deductions when reporting to the IRS?

Couple B contains Jack and Julie. Jack is a government employee and Julie works at a bank. Both are employees with steady paychecks that don’t change much from month to month. Julie is also really good at managing money whereas Jack could use some help in this department. Could you see the benefit of these two sharing an account?

You see, in these two examples, whether or not to share accounts has nothing to do with trust or love. Instead, it’s simply about what works for each couple.

You, too, can focus on the logistics of your finances when deciding between joint vs separate bank accounts – and not let your money define your marriage.

Why You Might Choose to Have Separate Bank Accounts

So, should you have separate bank accounts in your marriage? There are many reasons to consider joint vs separate bank accounts. Here are just a few possible reasons to consider having separate bank accounts when married:

  • You’re used to financial independence: You’ve lived most of your life paying your own bills, making your own money decisions, and making purchases independently. That doesn’t necessarily have to stop when you get married. Just make sure to discuss spending boundaries with your partner if you decide to go this route.
  • You have very different spending habits: While it’s important to get on the same page as your partner when it comes to money management, it doesn’t mean you’ll magically take on each other’s spending habits. As long as you have clear boundaries in place and open communication about your finances, it could reduce conflict and overspending to have separate accounts.
  • You have a tough history with money: Money is a touchy subject for so many of us. Perhaps you didn’t grow up with enough money to live comfortably. Maybe you were in an abusive relationship and lacked the resources to feel as though you could leave. If you have trauma, insecurity, or anxiety around money, having a separate account may be critical to your mental health. And that’s perfectly ok.
  • One of you earns significantly more: How you handle finances when one person makes significantly more money is as unique as your relationship. Some couples may still split bills 50-50 and use the rest to save, invest or play. Others may decide the higher earner pays a higher portion of the bills. And still, others may decide that keeping their money separate is simply easier, and perhaps each contributes to a third, joint account to pay their bills. There’s no one right answer!
a couple pays bills together from their separate bank accounts in marriage

How to Have Separate Bank Accounts When Married – And Do It Well

Whether or not you decide to keep separate bank accounts, the key to a healthy relationship is good communication – especially when it comes to money!

If you are keeping your own account so that you don’t have to discuss finances with your spouse, your problems are bigger than your bank account! 

On the other hand, if you’d like to keep some money on the side to surprise your love with shiny things from time to time, that’s probably something your spouse can get behind.

Are you and your spouse struggling to agree on finances? Are you fighting about money and how to manage or spend it? Couples therapy could help! Contact Couples Learn today for a free consultation to discover if couples therapy could help your marriage money problems.

Is Your Partner Depressed? How To Tell and What To Do About It

Is Your Partner Depressed? How To Tell and What To Do About It

Did you know that over 19 million Americans suffer from depression but only about one-third of them seek help? Part of the reason for this is because when someone is depressed, the disease tells them awful things like, “You will never get better,” and “You may as well give up.” As a result, they may not share when they are feeling depressed. So what can we do as spouses and partners? It’s time to get clear on the top signs your partner is depressed.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common but serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It often causes feelings of sadness and can impact your ability to function at work and at home. It can lead to other emotional and physical health challenges.

Depression also zaps your energy and makes you lose interest in activities you used to enjoy. It can be very hard to work up the energy to do anything when depressed, especially seeking help. 

However, those who do finally seek help find that depression is extremely treatable. At least 90% of people who try some form of treatment feels better!  

But, what if it isn’t you, but your partner who may be depressed? How can you tell if your loved one needs help? Let’s explore these 11 signs your partner is depressed:

Is My Partner Depressed? Look for These 11 Signs

When your partner is depressed, they may not be able to come right out and tell you how they’re feeling. But there are almost always signs your spouse is depressed – you just need to know what to look for.

Some of the most common signs of depression include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Feeling tired more than usual
  • Loss of appetite or weight changes
  • Arguing often, being irritable
  • Sad or anxious most of the time
  • Hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Not remembering things
  • Not sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Thoughts of suicide

In some cultures (particularly Asian and Hispanic) there is more of a stigma around having mental health issues and so depression can manifest as physical symptoms rather than emotional. 

If your partner is always complaining of aches and pains (headaches, stomach aches, sore muscles, joint pain) and there is no physical reason for the pain, it could be another one of the signs your partner is depressed.

Couple not talking after a fight about signs your partner is depressed on the sofa in living room at home

How Can A Spouse Help With Depression?

If your partner is experiencing several of the symptoms outlined above, he or she may be depressed. Keep in mind that depression can look different in men vs. women. For example, men may become more withdrawn, while women may become more emotional and moody.

If you suspect that your partner may be depressed, it’s important to remember that you are not responsible for your partner’s happiness. They are responsible for their own happiness just as you are responsible for your own happiness. It’s too much pressure to expect that you will be able to cure them. 

Additionally, the expectation that you will be able to change their mood takes the power away from your partner, leaving them feeling even more out of control and helpless.

So how can a spouse help with depression?

The best thing you can do when you notice these signs your partner has depression is to encourage him or her to take responsibility for making a change and seek help. This can be in the form of self-help books and videos, personal development seminars, therapy, antidepressant medication, or all of the above. 

But how do you bring up the idea of seeking help to someone who is already vulnerable and feeling down?

How To Talk To Your Partner About Depression

First, keep in mind that if you’ve noticed signs your partner is depressed, then they can’t simply just “snap out of it.” Depression is a real disease with physical manifestations.

Just like if they were to have diabetes or heart disease, your significant other is dealing with actual changes in their physical chemistry. These changes in his brain chemistry are causing their mood to shift and their ability to think clearly and rationally to deteriorate.

Your partner may already be thinking they need help but could be afraid of what you will think of them if they admit that they aren’t ok. Especially for men, admitting that they need help with emotional issues can be very difficult. This is why it’s important not to place blame or be judgmental when trying to talk with your partner. 

Instead, if you’ve seen signs your spouse is depressed, just say something like:

“I’ve noticed that you haven’t been yourself lately, and I think that what you are going through might be something that a psychologist could help with.

I would be happy to go with you. I want you to know that I am here to support you. How about I make us an appointment to see someone?”

That way, you are gently guiding your partner into the decision to see someone, but also doing the legwork that they might not be able to do right now.

And, the truth is, the appointment isn’t only for your partner; it’s for you too. Being in a relationship with someone who is depressed can be exhausting. You are both probably tired of the constant bickering, the lack of sexual desire, and the absence of fun and joy that the two of you used to share.

How to Take Care of Yourself If Your Partner Has Depression

Depression impacts both people in a relationship. This is why it’s important that you engage in regular fun and self-care activities for yourself so that you don’t fall into a depression too. 

You’ve heard that misery loves company and it’s true! When your partner is depressed, it can lead to you feeling guilty for being happy around them. You might find yourself hiding your good mood or avoiding telling your partner good news because you don’t want to rub it in their face when they are feeling down.

While it’s good to be aware of someone’s energy and try to match it in some respects, you don’t want to stop living your life just because your partner has stopped living theirs. 

If your partner doesn’t want to go out to the movies for the 5th night in a row and you are dying to see the newest film, ask if they would mind if you go with a friend instead. It’s great if you can get your partner up and motivated to do activities you know they used to enjoy, but if you have tried and tried to no avail, it’s ok for you to still go and have fun.

A man lays on the couch look sad and exhausted, one of the signs your partner is depressed

That being said, I would also recommend having a discussion with your partner about it and letting them know how you are feeling as you’ve noticed these signs your partner is depressed.

You might say something like “I know you have been feeling down lately and lacking energy and sometimes I feel bad being happy around you or going to do stuff without you. I want to support you and I also want to make sure I take care of myself so I can be good for both of us. How can I best support you through this?” 

This way you are letting them know you are there for them but that you need to attend to your own needs too.

Seeing Signs Your Partner Is Depressed? Get Professional Help

Another key piece of advice is this: Don’t Argue With The Depression. Even though the person talking to you looks, smells, and feels like your partner, chances are, the words coming out of their mouth are depression talking. 

Just like you wouldn’t argue with someone who is drunk, there is no point in arguing with depression.

Depression is dramatic, unreasonable, and just plain exhausting. When you feel yourself getting frustrated with your partner, say to yourself (or maybe even to them), “This is the depression talking, not my partner.” 

This will help you be more patient and understanding and it will show your partner that you two are both on the same team. It’s not you vs your partner, it is you and your partner vs the disease.

If you believe that you may be depressed or have noticed signs your partner is depressed, contact Couples Learn today. We have helped many couples overcome this issue and we can help you, too, through individual and couples therapy services.