Coping with a Spouse with a Mood Disorder 

Mood disorders refer to various depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. Coping with a spouse who has a mood disorder is similar to living with a spouse who has a life-long physical health condition, such as diabetes. For some people, depression can improve and the person does not experience any further episodes of depression. Other types of depression may get better and then re-occur.

Bipolar remains a life-long illness and people with bipolar may exhibit similar symptoms to someone with depression. Other people with bipolar exhibit manic episodes where they may act impulsively, and sometimes dangerously.

If you are married to someone who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, there are some steps you can take to be supportive of your spouse. Education is important. Learning about your partner’s illness, treatment, and prognosis can be very helpful. Knowledge about what to expect can help you understand how the illness may or may not change over time.

Mood disorders are often treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Offering to take part in therapy sessions can be important. Also, learning about medication and side effects may be vital as well. Sometimes people with mood disorders may want to stop taking medications and learning about how this will impact your spouse and the relationship can be helpful.

If your partner is not in treatment, encourage him to seek help. Consider obtaining treatment for yourself as well, even if your partner refuses. A mood disorder will impact the entire household, so learning how it impacts you and the relationship and how to respond can be vital to the marriage.

A therapist can teach you how to support your partner without enabling her. It can also help people realize that your partner’s mood issues are not your fault. Sometimes people think if they were a better partner or gave their partner a better life, their partner would not be depressed. Knowledge and support can be very helpful for the other partner.

3 Responses to “Coping with a Spouse with a Mood Disorder”

  1. My book ‘A Manic Marriage’ charts the course of my marriage to a husband who suffers from bipolar 1 mood disorder. It is available on amazon as well as most bookshops throughout South Africa. It is an honest and raw portrayal of what partners go through.

  2. I know that evidence-based marital therapy (EFT for Couples) can be more effective than medication or individual therapy targeting depressive symptoms, for cases of mild to moderate depression (by mainly focusing on the couple). But I wonder if and how helpful such therapy would be for a couple with a seriously mood disordered partner?

  3. Thank you for sharing this very enlightening post. Having a family member who is suffering from any condition is very difficult because this is accompanied with several distresses be it physical, mental, emotional, financial and even spiritual. In such situation, education of both parties is really very important because this will guide the patient and the family with the dos and don’ts that will help improve the health condition. Anyway, thank you again for this post. This is really very helpful.

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