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7 Signs Your Husband or Wife Is Depressed

What are the signs you have a depressed wife or husband? Here’s are 7 tell-tale symptoms to look out for, and what to do when depression strikes.

Having a depressed wife or husband can be worrying and stressful. While we may believe that the stigma is falling away from mental illness, and that our partners can open up about their struggles with depression, this isn’t always the case. Due to surviving stigma and the isolating nature of mental illness, many people suffer depression in silence. If you’re worried your husband or wife is depressed, here are the signs and symptoms to look out for and what to do when they occur.

How to Tell If You Have a Depressed Wife or Husband

Is your wife depressed or just sad? Is your husband just having a stressful time at work or could he be clinically depressed? Of course, the only way you can answer these questions is to encourage your partner to visit the doctor and discuss their symptoms. Sadness, stress, anger and low self-esteem are all common, and experiencing them doesn't necessarily mean your partner is depressed. Rather than being a state of mind, depression is a mental illness which has specific diagnostic criteria.

According to the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 criteria), which is used by mental health professionals, the signs your partner is depressed are as follows:

  1. Feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. These often manifest in tearfulness or outburst of anger
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, such as sex, hobbies they used to enjoy or exercising
  3. Sleep disturbances, such as sleeping too much or too little
  4. Appetite changes that result in weight loss or weight gain
  5. Feelings of worthlessness, guilt and self-blame
  6. Slowed thinking, as well as difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  7. Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

Depression can also cause physical problems such as headaches or back pain. Symptoms will vary in severity, but in most people with depression, these symptoms are experienced most of the day, nearly every day. Memory problems, physical aches and pains and personality changes are common in older adults with depression.

My Wife Is Depressed: What Should I Do?

According to Mental Health America, depression affects 12 million women in the United States every year; roughly twice the rate of men, with depression occurring most frequently in women aged 25 to 44. This means that approximately one in every eight women will experience clinical depression in their lifetime.

Many women also experience Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD: a condition that causes major depressive symptoms in the weeks surrounding menstruation) and perinatal depression, which affects 10-15% of new mothers.

The good news is, depression is both common and treatable. You cannot diagnose your wife or provide the solution, but there is plenty you can do to help a depressed wife by offering practical and emotional support, taking on the burden of household chores, accompanying her to medical appointments and cooking her healthy meals. 

My Husband Is Depressed: Should I Be Worried?

Although depression rates are lower in men, suicide rates are higher in males with depression than in women. In the U.S., of the 38,000 people who took their own lives in 2010, 79% were men. No one knows precisely why this is, though one hypothesis states that men have a higher tendency to act impulsively than women.

If you’re worried your husband is depressed, the best way you can help is to encourage and foster open communication. It can be scary to hear someone you love tell you how bleak and hopeless they feel, but depression is a serious illness that must be tackled head-on. Listening without judgment helps destigmatize depression and encourages those affected to make and maintain healthy connections with others.

You can find more advice on how to help your depressed husband or wife at "What to Do When Your Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Partner is Depressed".

Loving someone with depression isn't easy, but you can call the NAMI helpline at (800)-950-6264 for advice and support. If your wife or husband is depressed and suicidal, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or contact your local emergency services.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, March 25). 7 Signs Your Husband or Wife Is Depressed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/relationships/7-signs-your-husband-or-wife-is-depressed

Last Updated: May 17, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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