Depression is a mental disorder that negatively affects your feelings, thoughts, behaviors and beliefs. It also predetermines how you feel about yourself and others, as well as how you perceive the world. That’s because depression negatively distorts your perception.
While a romantic relationship may offer support and encouragement for depressed people, it may also add to relationship distress. As a result, a vicious circle occurs – depression lowers relationship enjoyment, which in turn creates further feelings of doom. What’s critically important is that warning signs of depression in a relationship aren’t always clear and obvious. And in order to know what you’re struggling against, it is necessary to identify when and how depression is interfering. Here’s what to look for:
- Your sex life is diminished or non-existent. While it is normal to have ups and downs of sexual desire within a relationship, long-term lack of intimacy can signal that you are depressed. Low libido can manifest from a variety of reasons related to depression – hidden resentment, poor body image, performance anxiety, taking medications and so on.
- You feel like you are not good enough for your partner. Self-doubt is one of the biggest issues that come with depression. You don’t see your worth clearly and think you are not good for your partner. You can also start thinking that your partner doesn’t love you or care about you as much as they actually do because of low self-esteem and self-doubt. This thought pattern may result in erectile dysfunction making things still worse.
- You act combative, irritable and impatient. If you already perceive life as overwhelming and heavy, you naturally become less tolerant, more bothered and annoyed by trifles. You may become overly critical of your partner and easily pick fights. There can increase frequency and intensity of arguments that damage your relationship.
- You are tempted to act out. Depressed people, in particular men, tend to express their depression outwardly. You may start acting depression out through drinking alcohol, having affairs or withdrawing. In addition, you can have such somatic symptoms as headache, backache and sexual problems.
- Anxiety wraps your perception. Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. The problems that arise from these two disorders – trouble sleeping, concentration difficulties, low energy, weight gain, and constantly expecting the worst – present a challenge to your relationship, which seems like it is doomed to failure. This perceived threat can trigger pathological anxiety, rumination and excessive reassurance seeking, placing your relationship under even more stress.
- You are isolating yourself. Depression makes you want to withdraw into your own island of despair. You don’t feel like doing anything but curl up on the couch and order takeout. You may lose interest in activities, turn off to things you used to be enthusiastic about, begin overeating, oversleeping and feeling tired. All these processes slow metabolism and cause general weakness and fatigue. It takes a toll on both partners – no one wants to coddle a depressed person for the whole life, and when you love someone you don’t want to abandon them either.
- It’s hard for you to love fully. When coping with your own mental disorders and instabilities, it is difficult to focus on feelings for someone else. Even if you know you love your partner, you can’t feel it when you are depressed.
With all these challenges it may seem like the odds are stacked against a relationship where depression is present. However, many of these issues can be resolved once you become aware of them and can implement coping strategies.