Walk Alongside Them and Take Care of Yourself If Your Spouse Has Depression

If only I would have been as educated 10 years ago as I am today about depression and depressive behaviors. . .how many more victories I could have won. . .how many more victories I could have supported someone else to win?

I came from a background where we didn’t talk about depression. It’s not that we were ashamed to talk about it. We just didn’t refer to our “problems” like that. I don’t know why. I can’t speak for my siblings, so I’ll just speak for myself.

I thought “depression” was a clinical word that led one down the path of receiving prescription medications from medical professionals that rendered them lifeless for many of their waking hours; that the medicines carried a myriad of debilitating side effects.

Back then, I didn’t talk openly about depression to people around me because I didn’t feel they could help me if I told them I was depressed. Another challenge was that they seemed just as depressed to me. So, I didn’t think they had the capacity to help or support me. They needed help themselves.

Coming from this background made it difficult for me to level with Kenneth in our marriage when I felt sad or depressed. I’d use the term “melancholy” when things weren’t going well. At first in our marriage, when he heard this term, he thought I was in a “funk” as we called it. Over time, he and I would cross reference my “funk” to that clinical term – depression – and call it what it was.

Being educated about depression is quite useful in our practice as Christian Counselors and Life Coaches. It provides a framework for us to support individuals and couples on their quest to overcome depression. (Depression is beatable if you dig it up at the root before the root is too deeply embedded in your life).

So being educated is useful, but education has little bearing on your psyche when you’re going through a difficulty. We’ve been there a few times in our marriage when I’ve been depressed, and Kenneth had to take care of himself to keep us both from being depressed. He sympathized. He supported. He prayed. But he didn’t engage in a “misery loves company” approach. Joining a mate, family member, or friend in a depressive state can be a recipe for two disasters.

I’ve studied depression quite extensively through my educational coursework and training. I’m glad for my education because depression is so prevalent in society, and many people aren’t cognizant that it is affecting them and their marriage.

In 2020, an estimated 21 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode, defined as at least two weeks of a depressed mood, including loss of interest and pleasure in daily activities. Specified symptoms included problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.

Everywhere we turn, someone is in the grips of depression: Silently. Destructively. Painfully. Sadly. In Denial.

If only I would have been as educated 10 years ago as I am today about depression and depressive behaviors. . .how many more victories I could have won. . .how many more victories I could have supported someone else to win?

Are you walking through the grips of depression? Is your spouse?

I pray you take care of yourself first spiritually. If you are defeated spiritually, that is where you might sustain your greatest loss. Be prayerful about the depression. Don’t just relinquish it over to counseling, medication, or suppressing it. Pray and fast through it. Worship through it. Find your best songs and scripture and consume them on a schedule - just like you would if you were taking medication for depression.

Our brain’s dendrites (short, branched extensions of our nerve cells) are like many trees in a forest. Dendrites conduct electrical messages to the neurons for the cells to function. During worship and prayer, neuroscientists suggest that dendrites can grow cells to produce a healthy psyche ecosystem.

So if you’re walking through depression, grow your dendrites through worship and prayer! Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Facing depression without daily exercise and proper nutrition will exacerbate your condition because it creates inflammation in your body. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to an irritant. The irritant might be a germ, virus, sickness, disease, or chronic stress from depression, for example. Research shows that just one session of moderate exercise can act as an anti-inflammatory. These findings are encouraging for people who are depressed.

You don’t have to exercise hard; just a brisk walk can assist greatly in purging the inflammation. Plus, you will produce serotonin and dopamine, which are feel-good chemicals produced to help you when you exercise.

Imagine it! When you worship, you grow dendrites that send electro-energy to neurons that ultimately improve your body’s cell production. Simply put, worship and prayer contribute more cells to brain health, which depression robs. Add worship and prayer with exercise on a daily basis, and you can tackle depression through cell production and “feel-good” chemical releases to your brain. The results are positive for fighting against depression.

As a mate of the depressed spouse, please take care of yourself as well by worshipping and praying and exercising with your depressed spouse or alone. These are great stress relievers and will help keep your mind clear as you journey alongside your spouse until depression is overcome.

And please remember, you are not alone. In the Holy Scriptures, David, Elijah, Job, Jeremiah, and others were depressed at times. Jesus Himself was described as “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief,” Isaiah 53:3.

Always remember that our God is ever-present in the daylight and in the darkness. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” Psalm 34:18.

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