Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression

Depression: How to Support a Spouse with Depression
By: Isabelle Siegel

Depression can cause immense pain and suffering for more than just the individual diagnosed. The partners/spouses of individuals with depression commonly report feeling hopeless and helpless, unsure how to provide necessary support to their partner/spouse. Attempts to help may be met with apathy or even anger, further complicating a seemingly simple question: How can I support my partner/spouse with depression?

Develop an understanding of depression and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. It can be helpful to research depression, taking note of its symptoms and causes. Understand that depression is an illness and not a choice. You may want to create a list of your partner’s/spouse’s particular symptoms and triggers for depressive episodes in order to better understand his/her experiences.

As simple as it sounds, just be there. Depression may have your partner/spouse doubting that you love him/her and may make him/her feel as though he/she is a burden to you. Assure your partner that you are there for him/her and that you love him/her despite his/her illness.

Encourage him/her to get help. Depressive symptoms can interfere with one’s motivation and ability to get help, so continuously encourage treatment. Help your partner/spouse find a therapist and/or psychiatrist, bring him/her to appointments, and cheer him/her on as they undergo treatment.

Do things you both enjoy. One important treatment step for depression is known as “opposite action,” in which individuals with depression act opposite to how they feel. If they feel like laying in bed all day, for example, they should get up and out of the house. As a partner/spouse, you can help by encouraging your partner/spouse to act opposite to their depressive urges by engaging in activities that you both enjoy.

Understand the warning signs of suicide. Individuals with depression are more vulnerable to suicide, so it may be important to know signs that your partner is considering taking his/her life. These may include talking about suicide, social withdrawal, giving away belongings, or obtaining means of attempting suicide. If you believe that your partner is at risk for suicide, seek immediate help.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Research suggests that having a partner/spouse with depression increases one’s own risk of developing depressive symptoms. It is important to understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support. Never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs, and consider seeking therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health.

If you or a loved one needs support, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit


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Depression: Difference between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

By Gabriella Phillip

Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.

Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.

When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .