Spouse Suffers From Depression: How To Support Them

10 October

Today is World Mental Health Day (10th October), so it feels like the right time to talk about depression. Depression is a debilitating illness. For the person dealing with it, it could literally transform them into a completely different person, someone you may no longer recognise. It’s heartbreaking watching it happen to those you care about; unfortunately I’ve seen it affect friends and family, and my husband too.

This blog in particular is for the partners of those that are suffering from depression. Personally, I feel like our own mental health when dealing with this can be overlooked, and no one really understands what it’s like having to deal with a partner suffering from depression...it’s hard. There’s no guide to tell you what to do, and so many times you’re left feeling hopeless, like nothing you do will really help your spouse.

Youth on a bench at sunset
Photo by Jude Beck / Unsplash

But from my own experience I’ve picked up on a few things you can do in helping your partner (even if you don’t think it does):

1)     Encourage your partner to get help

Unfortunately within the Muslim community there’s a huge stigma around mental health issues, and seeking help. Too often I hear  “Why are you depressed? Just put your trust in Allah!”. If only it were that easy.

Because of this stigma so many Muslims refuse to get help; to them it’s seen as  a sign of weakness. You should encourage your partner to see a counsellor or psychologists, it could really help them to let things out. Oftentimes I have no idea what to say to my husband when he’s venting, so him having a professional counsellor he can talk to really does help.

Colorful Hands 2 of 3   /   George Fox students Annabelle Wombacher, Jared Mar, Sierra Ratcliff and Benjamin Cahoon collaborated on the mural.   /   Article: https://www.orartswatch.org/painting-the-town-in-newberg/
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

I would recommend going for a Muslim counsellor- someone that they can relate to on a spiritual level. Speaking to someone who understands the power of prayers  and dua can be a lot more useful when discussing solutions, compared to someone who doesn’t understand your religion at all.

2)     Learn about depression yourself

I was lucky enough to have studied Psychology at Uni, so in some ways I could understand what my husband was going through, and attempt to help him (but don’t get me wrong, studying psychology is nothing like actually having to be around someone with a mental illness in real life). If you don’t know much about your partner’s illness, it would be a good idea to learn about it, so you can understand what they’re going through better.

Working at Five Eyed Fox
Photo by Bonnie Kittle / Unsplash

Here’s a virtual game you can play which shows you what it’s like to live with depression: Depression Quest  

3)     Don’t let them push you away

My husband tried pushing me away so many times. He would tell me that I deserve better, or that I could do better. It’s so crazy because normally he would never say something like that to me.

man and woman holding a heart together
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Depression can turn your spouse into a completely different person, which is why it’s important to not take what they say to heart; it may be upsetting when they push you away or turn you down, but they do want you around. You’re helping just by being there, even if they don’t say so.

4)     Create a supportive environment

Creating a supportive home environment your spouse can feel relaxed in can literally make all the difference, this can include:

  • Doing new activities together- Having a change of scene and doing something fun is so important for your partner right now.
  • Exercising together- Exercise can boost your mood and make you feel a lot happier, try to help them get some in daily.
  • Forming healthy habits- such as a regular time of day to read Quran together, cooking healthy meals together etc.
  • Reminding them of how amazing they are- this is so important, as often with depression the person can completely lose sight of this, and you reminding them that they're special and amazing can help a lot.

Dutch romantic sunset
Photo by Stéphane Delval / Unsplash

5)     Don’t be afraid to take some “me” time!

Your partner's depression can have a huge draining effect on you, which is why it’s so important you take care of yourself. See your friends and have fun, treat yourself from time to time. It’s important you surround yourself with loving and supporting people too. If you allow yourself to get drained how can you help your partner?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

These are the few things I’ve learned from dealing with a husband who suffers from depression- I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I just hope this helps someone. x

Written by an anonymous ex muzmatch member

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