My Marriage Is Making Me Depressed
An unhappy marriage can have a profoundly negative impact on your mental health. If you’ve noticed your mood worsening since getting married, you’re not alone. Over 40% of married people in America report being unhappy in their marriage.
This unhappiness can lead to increased anxiety, irritability, sadness, and even clinical depression.
Marriage problems and depression often form a vicious cycle, where depression causes more marital issues and vice versa. Breaking this cycle is critical. In this guide, we’ll explore the most common reasons an unhappy marriage leads to depression as well as solutions to improve both your relationship and mental health.
11 Reasons Marriage Can Lead to Depression
There are several common reasons why marriage problems and conflicts can increase depression symptoms:
1. Lack of Emotional Intimacy
Emotional intimacy is the closeness and connection you feel with your spouse. When emotional intimacy fades, you can end up feeling lonely and isolated even though you’re married. This loss of emotional “best friend” intimacy is linked to higher rates of depression.
2. Criticism and Contempt
Marital researchers have identified criticism and contempt as two of the biggest predictors of divorce. Constant criticism from your spouse can slowly wear away your self-esteem. Contempt shows a lack of respect that leaves you feeling worthless.
Both criticism and contempt create an environment ripe for depression.
3. Feeling Invalidated
Invalidation is when your thoughts and feelings are minimized, ignored, or judged by your partner.
Invalidation communicates that your experiences and emotions don’t matter. This rejection can make you feel inadequate and confused, both symptoms of depression.
4. Loss of Physical Intimacy
For many couples, physical intimacy declines when emotional intimacy fades. The loss of physical closeness can exacerbate feelings of disconnection. This lack of physical bonding behaviors is linked to increased rates of marital conflict and depressive symptoms.
5. Communicating Through Conflict
Some couples fall into a pattern of frequent bickering, criticism, and contempt. Over time, this way of communicating erodes trust and goodwill between partners. Partners feel emotionally unsafe with each other, leading to distress and loneliness.
6. Role Disagreements
Disagreements over household responsibilities, childcare duties, etc can leave both partners feeling disrespected and overwhelmed. These role conflicts are a common source of arguments that contribute to feelings of anger and depression.
7. Financial Stress
Money is consistently one of the top conflicts married couples face. Financial stress – unemployment, debt, etc – strains budgets and emotions. Financial problems are linked to decreased relationship and life satisfaction.
8. Lack of Community
When two people merge lives, they often lose touch with some single friends. Without a strong community and social connections outside the marriage, spouses lean too heavily on each other for all social needs. This emotional burden impacts mood.
Infidelity often leads to catastrophic damage in relationships. The betrayals of trust that occur after cheating can create feelings of worthlessness and devastation leading to depression and even PTSD-like symptoms.
Addictions like alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, etc destroy intimacy and stability in marriages. Addictive behaviors commonly co-occur with depression as well. The chaos of addiction can accelerate and intensify depressive spirals.
11. Loss of Identity
Getting lost in a relationship is easy to do. Over time, you can lose touch with who you are and what makes you come alive outside of the marriage. This loss of self leads to decreased mood, confidence, and self-worth.
6 Solutions for Improving Your Marriage and Mental Health
If your unhappy marriage is making you depressed, know there are solutions. Here are 6 evidence-based strategies for improving both your relationship and mental health:
1. Individual Counseling
Getting individual counseling helps you identify how your marriage is impacting your mood while building self-awareness and communication skills. Counseling empowers you to identify patterns and advocate for your needs with your spouse.
2. Marriage Counseling
Marriage counseling helps you and your partner address unresolved conflicts and dysfunctional communication patterns in a constructive setting. Couples counseling reduces negative behaviors like criticism and contempt in relationships. It provides tools to enhance intimacy.
3. Develop Intimate Behaviors
Prioritize actions that nurture intimacy like date nights, thoughtful gestures, physical affection, intimate conversations, and shared activities. Research shows consistently engaging in bonding behaviors increases marital and life satisfaction.
4. Improve Communication Skills
Learn and practice healthy communication skills like active listening, speaking non-defensively, and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt.
Use “I” statements to share your feelings and avoid blaming language. Take breaks when arguments escalate.
5. Bond with the Community
Investing in friendships and community provides social support outside your marriage, improving mood and life balance. Pursue hobbies and interests that help you feel self-confident and energized. Create meaning through volunteering.
6. Practice Gratitude and Acceptance
Focusing on the positives, even during adversity, boosts resiliency. Appreciate your spouse’s strengths. Release control over the unchangeable. Research shows gratitude and self-acceptance increase relationship satisfaction and lower depression.
Treatments and Other Procedures for Depression
People have a plethora of options available when it comes to addressing and managing depression. Even in the most severe cases, depression can be effectively treated. In addition to regular therapy and medication, incorporating various lifestyle changes can significantly complement the treatment process. Engaging in regular exercise and adopting stress reduction techniques can greatly impact your overall well-being.
Moreover, gaining knowledge about depression and its diverse treatment methods can prove advantageous. Some widely recognized treatments for depression in the context of marriage include:
- Mental health counseling, specifically utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy and similar techniques.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), is a procedure in which a healthcare professional places a TMS device on a patient’s head, emitting magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain.
- Antidepressant medication.
Many couples also discover the benefits of participating in marriage counseling alongside their individual depression treatments. By receiving the right assistance and support, it becomes feasible to effectively manage depression and enhance the quality of your marriage.
Signs That Your Marriage is Making You Depressed
If you feel that your marriage is making you depressed, here are some signs to look out for:
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability or anger
- Thoughts of suicide
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.