Daniel Linder, MFT
How do I cope if my partner is struggling with anxiety or depression
It’s important to understand whether it is your spouse or you that is depressed. Depression is not a feeling. It is a state that is generally non-specific. It’s defined anxiety and the absence of feelings.
When these states of depression and anxiety happen, you get cut off from old feelings. This can be a defense mechanism because many people who have a lot of resentment, a lot frustration, a lot of pain, a lot of fear, a lot of trauma, a lot of scars that are healing and festering inside of them, cope with it unconsciously. They relieve some of it just flattening everything out, numbing out, checking out, cutting off, not feeling anything, losing motivation, losing their zest for life.
So, if you’re depressed, you may not actually know it if you’ve been feeling that way for a long time. You may feel normal. But if you notice that your spouse is feeling depressed, that he or she looks depressed or anxious to you, then that will be something to talk about. If they’re coming across as anxious or depressed, they’re not really; in fact, there’s something missing. There’s something that they’re not feeling and they’re not expressing to you, and it’s compromising the quality of their life and the quality of your relationship as well as the level of intimacy that you can achieve.
You’re not going to be able to become very intimate with someone who is very depressed because they won’t have much to share with you; they won’t have much ability to respond to you. So, anxiety and depression are something to be brought out and discussed explicitly. They’re not something to just worry about for long periods of time, not really talking about them because you’re afraid of hurting the other person or afraid of what they might think about themselves if you suggest that they may be depressed.
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