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The Warning Signs That Depression is Affecting Your Relationship

This year Men’s Health Week, which runs from the 11th to the 17th of June, has the theme “Men and Families: Making Healthy Connections”. The goal is to explore all the different ways men and boys can make and sustain positive family connections. Naturally, one of these ways is within their partner relationship.

One of the challenges that men face, is with mental health. In fact, research tells us that men and boys often struggle with depression. In fact, one in eight men will experience depression at some stage of their lives. And seven out of the nine suicides that occur every day in Australia are men and boys.

It’s no surprise then that depression in men affects their relationships. It impacts on the wellbeing of the person who is depressed, naturally. But it also makes the non-depressed partner feel helpless and confused. They may be facing a lack of communication, withdrawal from their loved one, a change in personality and more. And if you’re the depressed partner, you may not notice these impacts.

So, what are the warning signs that depression is affecting your relationship?

Warning Signs that Depression is Affecting Your Relationship

Your sex drive takes a dive

While there are many reasons your sex drive might take a dive, depression is a big one. And when your sex drive tanks, it can put a serious strain on your relationship. This is a problem because sex in a monogamous relationship is really important. It increases your level of commitment and emotional connection with your partner. And, statistically, it increases the likelihood that your relationship will go the distance as it’s associated with a lower divorce rate. So when it’s not working well, it can be a sign that you need to start thinking about the state of your relationship.

You’re withdrawing

Depression can cause you to withdraw and isolate yourself. You might feel ashamed that you feel so badly and can’t get out of it. Or you just might feel so badly that you simply don’t want to be around anyone else, even your partner.

Emotionally checking out – or social withdrawing – is one of the most tell-tale signs that you’re struggling with depression. When you’re depressed, withdrawing actually amplifies the brain’s stress response and can worsen the symptoms. On the other hand, social contact, including contact with your partner, helps to lessen the impacts of depression.

Withdrawal can have a serious impact on your relationship as well. When you withdraw, whether intentional or not, you are not able to give your partner the presence, availability and vulnerability they deserve. And this can lead to resentment and stress in your relationship.

You’re fighting more

Depression can come out in a number of ways – and one is that you’re short-tempered, negative and impatient. And when that happens, it can also be very common for the partner to get angry and frustrated because of that negativity. This combination of attitudes are a recipe for fighting and squabbling. So, if you’re fighting more than normal, take a minute to step back and think about whether this is the depression impacting your relationship.

You’re regularly criticising your partner

When you’re depressed, you tend to focus more on the negatives in your life and in your relationship. And that can lead to you becoming more critical.

Criticising your partner – or even other members of your family – is particularly destructive because rather than being about a specific issue, criticism is attacking your partner’s character or who they are. And this can pave the way for contempt – where you will consistently view your partner in a negative light.

Contempt is very destructive in a relationship because it destroys the bonds of safety and trust. While in most cases, you can get over disagreements, ongoing or unrelenting criticism and contempt can cause an otherwise healthy relationship to disintegrate pretty quickly. In fact, contempt is the single greatest predicator of divorce.

You stop taking care of yourself

When you stop caring for yourself, it can be a sign that you’re struggling with depression. This might be showering less, not changing out of your pyjamas, or brushing your hair. This lack of effort can also impact on your partner who might see your lack of effort as disinterest in them.

If your partner is speaking up about your lack of self-care, try to take that onboard. This could be a very big sign that your mental health is having a negative impact on your relationship.

Don’t let depression derail your relationship

As men, depression is something that can loom large. It’s important to watch out for the warning signs that your depression may affecting your relationship. After all, your relationship with your partner can be one of the greatest supportive elements in your life, and losing this support, could simply spiral you deeper into a negative mindset.

Author: Di O’Malley – Founder and Managing Director of Young Minds Health and Development Network, and Counselling Psychologist.

Please call us on (07) 3857 0074 to book an appointment with one of our Clinicians; or send us an Appointment Request via this website and we’ll contact you as soon as possible to book a suitable time for you.