What Causes Depression?
Depression has been linked to many factors, including genetics, medications, trauma, and various life issues. There are probably more possible “suspects” than there are treatments. It can be helpful to look at everything when trying to narrow it down. You need to find what will finally give you relief from the emptiness and debilitation of depression. This doesn’t mean you’ll ultimately be able to point to one “cause.” What it means is you might find a major contributor to your depression. Work on that, and you are started on your way to true relief.
Your doctor or psychiatrist looks at a variety of things in helping you with depression. They often considers different medicines that may help. In counseling and therapy, we also look at many factors. I consider a wide range of things when helping a client find a way out of depression. I look at sleep, diet, self-talk, how you relate to others. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the same questions, and more.
You Could Be Missing A Big Piece Of The Puzzle
It’s possible you could be overlooking an important component: your relationships. Our brains and brain chemistry are impacted by our interactions with others. It’s especially true of those who are important to us. Yet many of my clients overlook this factor when trying to find a way out of their own depression.
When I talk about relationships, I mean connection with any important person in your life. This could be your mother, your best friend, even a person who has since died but their memory is a part of your daily life. The biggest impact often comes from the person you are closest and most attached to, referred to as our “primary attachment” person.
How Do I Know If My Relationship Is Related To My Depression?
Here are some clues to help you figure out if your relationship is a factor in your depression. Are any of these true for you?
- Your partner avoids you, or you avoid them.
- You find yourself particularly critical of your partner, but you feel guilty about it.
- Sometimes, you have “conversations” with your partner in your head, but not out loud.
- During and after arguments, you feel misunderstood and confused.
- You feel like your life would be so much easier if your partner would do things differently.
- During or after arguments you notice depressive symptoms begin creeping in.
- You feel really bad after talking with your partner but you don’t know why.
- Sometimes you feel so flawed that you don’t think any negative feelings about your partner should matter.
- You feel hopeless that you will ever be good enough to be fully loved or understood.
- Everyone tells you how great your spouse is, and you agree, so you wonder why you are still unhappy.
So Should I Just Leave The Relationship?
Leaving is only one possibility, and only in certain cases. If you are being abused or otherwise harmed, it may be necessary for you to leave. But for many relationships, the problem is not with the individual person. In fact, leaving the relationship could mean you just pack up your problems and bring them with you into the next one. Most often it’s not the people, but the communication and attachment styles that need improvement. It is possible to improve your relationship with yourself and others right now, while relieving your depression.
How Can I Change My Partner So They Don’t Make Me Depressed?
While it’s important to note we can’t directly change anyone but ourselves, we can make changes that lead to better outcomes. The way forward is about taking a good look. What is it about the relationship that triggers your downward spiral? That’s where the work begins. Sometimes it’s as simple as noticing what hurts and speaking up. Other times, with the help of a therapist, it’s about really making some permanent, positive improvements in yourself and your way of relating that can give you back a sense of power over your fluctuating moods.
Living with depression can be a lonely, scary journey. It descends on us and we have no map for how to get out of it and back into our lives. Or worse, there are a bunch of different maps with different instructions and none of them seems to lead to anything but a rest stop. Then it’s back on the same sad road. There are many good, solid, time tested ways to help people feel more like themselves again, and episodes can come and go. From medications to lifestyle changes, it pays to be persistent and to find out what will help you get on the best possible footing. If it seems like your relationship may be an ingredient in your depression, I would like to help.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois, but her “office” is anywhere you have a phone or computer, from the tip of southern Illinois all the way up to her hometown of Oak Park. She loves helping couples to build great relationships and repair broken ones.