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

Your partner may already be thinking he needs help but could be afraid of what you will think of him if he admits that he isn’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 him. 

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 him into the decision to see someone, but also doing the leg-work that he might not be able to do right now.

And, the truth is, the appointment isn’t only for him; 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 him. You might find yourself hiding your good mood or avoiding telling him good news because you don’t want to rub it in his face when he is 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 he has stopped living his. 

If he 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 him if he 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 he 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 him about it and letting him 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 him know you are there for him 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 his mouth are his 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 him) “This is the depression talking, not my partner.” 

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