John is a successful business man, but his wife is suffering from depression. “She spends most mornings in bed, and in the afternoons she just sits around the house,” he said. “She seems to have no ambition. Every night, I have to bring food home for dinner. Many nights she doesn’t eat with us. She has lost forty pounds over the last year. To be truthful, life is pretty miserable at our house. I feel sorry for the kids, although they get more attention than I do. But I know they must wonder what is wrong with their mother.”
John just described some of the classic characteristics of depression. Unfortunately, depression does not go away simply with the passing of time. John’s wife needs medical and psychological help, and without it things will get even worse. Many Christians don’t understand depression. They think it is a spiritual problem. While it may have a spiritual dimension, it is often rooted in physical, and emotional imbalance.
Identifying the Problem
What do you do when your spouse is depressed? First, you must get information. It is helpful to think of three categories of depression. First, depression may be the by-product of a physical illness. When we are physically sick, our minds and emotions move into a depressed state. We temporarily check out. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from constant anxiety about your physical condition.
The second kind of depression is called situational depression or reactive depression. It is a depression that grows out of a particularly painful situation in life. Many of these experiences involve a sense of loss: the loss of a job, the loss of a child to college, or loss of a friendship.
The third category is depression rooted in some biochemical disorder. It is a physical disease, and must be treated with medication. Visit the library or search the web and learn about depression. It’s the first step in helping your spouse.
Finding the Solution
The healthiest road of treatment involves an honest and in-depth evaluation of three elements: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Seriously depressed persons will seldom take initiative to help themselves. As a caring spouse you must insist that they get help. Depression is not an incurable disease. Even those who have been depressed for months or sometimes years can find relief with the proper treatment.
Long term depression can be devastating to a marriage. If your spouse has been depressed for more than a few weeks, I urge you to take action.