Disreality Illusion

The Loss of Feeling in Depressed Partners

Living with depressed partners can mean living without the feelings of love that are at the heart of every relationship. What is it about depression that could turn intimate companions into cold and blaming strangers? Readers ask about this over and over as their partners start blaming them for their own unhappiness and want out of the relationship. How could the person they most loved and trusted suddenly turn on [...] Read the rest»

Couple in mystic woods at sunset

Can You Be a Therapist for Your Depressed Partner?

A couple of readers have asked me to comment on whether it’s possible or advisable to try to act as a ‘therapist’ for your depressed partner. This idea came out of responses to one of the posts on relationships that has attracted the most attention on this blog: How Can You Communicate After Your Depressed Partner Leaves? The word ‘therapist’ has to go in quotes because a non-depressed partner cannot [...] Read the rest»

Water Girl by a Stream

The Limits of Care-Giving for Depression

A family member’s care-giving for depression can shift from hope to frustration if the initial expectations are unrealistically high. The film Phoebe in Wonderland is about a young girl with a compulsive disorder and also about the mother who tries to cure her with love. The mother, brilliantly played by Felicity Huffman, blames herself as the child’s behavior gets worse and worse. She rejects an OCD diagnosis, convinced that her [...] Read the rest»

dawn sky

Waking Up a Depressed Partner

I remember years ago talking with a friend about his recent divorce and remarriage and mentioning the stressful time my wife and I had been having at that time. He bluntly suggested: Well, why don’t you leave? I told him I wouldn’t do that since I thought the problems were as much on my side as hers. He looked at me quizzically and said: “Really?” – as if that were [...] Read the rest»

Frowning Man in Dark Glasses

Depressed Men Behaving Badly Can Stop

There’s a story on this site that never, unfortunately, gets old. It’s about depressed men breaking up their relationships as a misguided way to get well and find fulfillment. The psychotherapist, David Wexler, has good ideas about how men can change the experience of their closest relationships without leaving. He looks at the problems of men in crisis from a broader perspective than that of depression, but his thoughts are [...] Read the rest»

burning sunset in dark clouds

Does the Partner or Depression Cause the Breakup?

I’ve often described the way depression can break up close relationships, but does the illness explain everything? How responsible are depressed partners for the human cost that others pay because of what they do when they’re ill? One reader told me I’d confused her about this. First, I talked about depression taking over someone, as it had done to her husband. The angry stranger he became was the opposite of [...] Read the rest»

Separated man and woman watching sunset

How Depression Spreads

Depression spreads through the closest relationships almost like a communicable disease. I learned the hard way that the illness didn’t happen to me alone. It happened to my children, my friends, and most of all to my wife. The pull of depression took me away from her and everyone else. I often felt I was choosing to be alone in order to feel better or to escape situations that seemed [...] Read the rest»

Essence by-Grzegorz Chorus 350

Becoming an Active Partner in Your Treatment

Most stories about getting life back from depression describe how each person had to become an active partner in treatment in order to recover. I know it’s not easy to think about being active when you’re deeply depressed, but there’s a lot of support for the idea. Dozens of research studies indicate that if you can take a leading role, your chances of improving are better. There are at least three ways an active role can help you. Read the rest»