Meanwhile, one of the health issues that could ground a couple’s happiness is if one’s spouse is suffering from depression, which is simply defined as mood disorder characterised by “persistently” low mood, consistent feeling of sadness and continual loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, including those that once brought joy.
In February 2017, the World Health Organisation shared some interesting key facts on depression. It found that depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 300 million people of all ages affected. It also found that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide; it is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease; it impairs their ability to function (at home or at work) effectively and interestingly, more women, than men, are affected by depression.
In fact, a study by Tetyana Pudrovska, a Professor of Sociology and Demography at the University of Texas in the United States of America, found that highly placed women, best regarded as high flying women, are more likely to show symptoms of depression than men with this authority and women without such authority.
In the study, reviewed on Mail Online, the researcher found that even though such women have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupation, higher level of job satisfaction and autonomy, mere resistance from colleagues, who tend to judge them as being ‘extreme’ could affect them as well.
She said, “Years of social science research suggests that women in authority positions deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions, negative stereotypes, prejudice, social isolation, as well as resistance from subordinates, colleagues and superiors.
“Usually, women in authority positions are viewed as lacking the assertiveness and confidence of strong leaders, but when these women display such characteristics, they are judged negatively for not being feminine and this contributes to chronic stress.”
She concluded, “We need to address gender discrimination, hostility, and prejudice against women leaders to reduce the psychological costs and increase the psychological rewards of higher-status jobs for women.”
While this could be the experience of ‘high-flying’ women, previous studies had shown that women who suffer from severe spousal abuse, childhood abuse or trauma, lack of support and understanding from the spouse, among others, have also been found to be at risk of depression, more so that the repetition of the negative experience is a major trigger.
On a brief look at the causes or its contributing factors, the WHO said depression, which must have lasted for two weeks before it can be regarded as depression, results from a complex interaction of biological factors, psychosocial factors, genetics and social factors, like bereavement, trauma, stress and unemployment. And notably, depression affects how people feel, how they act and their thinking process.
Even though it is a common mental disorder that affects mood, thoughts, sex drive and others that could affect a marriage, there are effective treatments for it, and in some cases, one’s partner has a role to play, and these include:
Support your partner when it matters: According to a consultant psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, one thing couples could do to help themselves is to always provide each other with the needed emotional and social support so that no matter the challenge being faced by the person, it could be resolved before depression comes knocking. He stressed that depression was not an instant occurrence but the result of a process. He said, “It doesn’t just start with depression. For example, it starts with a state of fear; like if you are afraid of or unsettled by something. If it’s not addressed in good time, it leads to anger. From that, it leads to illusion and from there, it moves to frustration. After frustration, if it is not mediated and there is no form of help, it leads to depression, and if it is still not addressed, it could lead to schizophrenia.
“So, any form of help ought to have taken place at the earlier stages where intervention might have been needed by loved ones. If you are afraid of a possible negative future and nothing assuages your fear, it could develop into depression. With the situation in Nigeria today, if one loses his job and there is no form of support or understanding from the spouse or any feasible means of livelihood, and if ultimately, all hopes are lost, depression could set in. That is why the help should have come earlier because depression is a serious psychological dysfunction.”
Make your partner feel loved: According to experts, one of the things people suffering from depression need at all times, is the reassurance that they are loved, ranging from verbal assurances to meeting their physical needs. Even though it may not be easy to keep the pace, especially when it seems they do not seem appreciative enough, showing it consistently may be the key to their recovery. Elegbeleye said, “I won’t say it’s easy to cure, but it’s all about having access to immediate motivational assistance. For example, if somebody loses his job and so many things are happening at the same time and the person is sliding into depression, but as soon as that person has a worthy replacement, he’s on the way back to recovery. But if there is no such replacement and all hopes are lost and there isn’t anything in the horizon to give the promise of a better tomorrow, depression could set in. Thus, one thing people can do is to let them know that all hope is not lost. He noted that this could go beyond verbal assurance to include rendering real help, like helping them out of the financial difficulties that could have resulted from the situation that led to that state.
Let them know you would always be there for them: Notably, it may not be easy tending to the needs of someone suffering from depression, because they might not be very receptive to the care being given by the spouse, and that could provoke the partner or lead to resentment, but according to experts, unconditional love and support are all that they need at such times. They noted that loneliness could aggravate their situation, thus, staying around them, holding their hands and letting them know you care and they are in your thought, even when you are not physically around them, could make them feel loved. Since people can survive depression when they have support, it is important not to abandon them. A psychiatrist and director in Women’s Hospital in Boston, US, Dr. Jay Baer, told Live Science that encouraging them to talk, “without passing judgement” helps them and that nothing offensive they say should be taken so seriously. No doubt, caring for such persons could be overwhelming, but when at the breaking point, they are advised to seek emotional support or see a therapist.
Be patient and learn to understand them: Given their condition, they may be hostile and may not readily jump at the help the spouse is rendering, especially in their low moments or when they feel abandoned. Even though it could be frustrating and resentful, findings have shown that shouting at them for seemingly “being ungrateful” could only make matters worse. Thus, when they ask for space, they could either mean they really want to be alone or they just want ‘only a loved one’ around, and if the latter is the case, that is one good opportunity to offer that support. If the former is the case, leave them with a soothing word. Therefore, it is important to be able to read their moods and do the needful. Baer stated that doctors could often help people with depression feel better and function better with a combination of medication and talk therapy, thus, spouses should be patient.
Accompany them to see a therapist: In some parts of the world, including Africa, people stigmatise persons with mental health disorder and so for that reason, such persons don’t want to seek medical help. But Baer said the spouse could make it easier by offering to go with the partner. He said, “To broach the topic, tell the partner, ‘I love you but I hate watching you suffer. Depression is a common problem and you shouldn’t be ashamed of having it, so let’s find out more about this illness together.” This, according to him makes the partner feel better. He said further that going together to see a doctor would make them feel loved and that the observation by the partner could be very useful during treatment. Baer said taking a daily walk and ensuring that they take their medication could help them get better.
Don’t keep your children in the dark: While issues like this could make couples assume that it is between them only, Baer pointed out that since depression tends to impart on the entire family, children should be told about the development “in a sensitive and honest way” to allay their fears or worries. THINK YOUR FRIEND WOULD BE INTRESTED? SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE SHARE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>