Melissa and Harvey have been married for eleven years. Melissa recounted that they have a blissful life until she got pregnant after trying for almost six years. The house was full of energy while both expecting parents were excited about the coming of their first-born child. However, during Melissa’s second trimester, she got into a car accident and lost her baby. After this incident, Melissa’s outlook on life changed and she started to feel depressed most of the time. On the other hand, Harvey expressed frustration and disappointment in helping Melissa with her emotional problems. He no longer feels the connection that he used to have with the relationship. He was already considering getting a divorce.
Most people going through divorce experience some degree of situational depression as part of the normal grieving process over all the losses the end of the marriage brings. If not dealt with appropriately, situational depression can linger for much longer than it needs to. I don’t want that to happen to you. – Dr. Karen Finn, Divorce Coach
Depression in marriage is becoming more common and has increased in the last ten years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 15 million American adults are affected by major depression. That’s about 6.7% of the total US population at the age of 18 years and above. Another report presented that major depression and substance abuse are the two most common mental health conditions that cause married couples to get divorced. With this report, there is a dire need to examine the problems within the relationship and find possible solutions to help married couples in resolving this type of conflict in their married life.
“It seems obvious that experiencing a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, would be required for someone to be diagnosed. But some people who are diagnosed with depression do not report feeling depressed, sad or low, but rather, they report experiencing significantly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day. Either one, or both together, can be present when considering a diagnosis of depression.” —Simon Rego, PsyD
Should I Get A Divorce?
Before going to this direction, marriage counselors recommend examining the whole situation at large. Take time to reconsider some factors like the real reason for the divorce, the involvement of children, job status, and its aftermath. In the case study presented in this article, mental illness is the main reason why the husband was seeking a divorce. The following statements can be helpful in guiding partners in discerning on what will be the best action in case this would come up in their relationship:
The Commitment Of The Person To Get Treatment. Most mental illnesses are manageable if the person continues to seek professional mental help. The stigma of mental illness remains prevalent that once a person is diagnosed with mental illness, they will succumb to its ill-effects. The only time that this can happen is if the whole situation is not averted by consulting a psychiatrist or psychologist that can treat the condition. Another factor that is important to consider is the commitment of the person towards getting treatment. No matter how prodding one does, if the person does not claim the condition, then there will be problems in relapse and recurrence of the condition. In situations where there is major psychological disturbance where cognition and thought processes are greatly affected, an involuntary commitment to hospitalization is imperative to help the person recover. Therapy and rehabilitation follow once the person is stabilized.
The Degree Of Harm Each Family Member Experience. A person with mental illness can come to the point of committing self-harm and harm to others. This is possible during the height of the symptoms and if the person is not consistent with adhering to the treatment. A good example would be a mother who is having post-partum depression where she can harm her baby because of feelings of guilt, disappointment, anger, and hopelessness. If this is imminent in the relationship, the person should be referred immediately for professional help. If the situation continues to prevail despite treatment and therapy, then a legal action such as divorce can help to protect not only the person but also the other members of the family.
“For Better Or For Worse, Till Death Do Us Part.” Traditional practice dictates that once a person is married, let no man or situation can put asunder in the vows that both have committed. Should a partner decide to stay, there will be tremendous patience, understanding, attention, and hard work one needs to put on in the relationship. Not to mention the financial and emotional factors that one invests while the other partner continues to manifest the mental illness.
Mental illness is not something to be afraid of. The ramifications of the disorder are far worse if the person does not receive proper treatment.
“A mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either. There are genetic tests that help target successful antidepressant medications that help speed recovery. And with proper treatment (talk therapy and medication), you’ll begin to feel a reduction of symptoms within weeks.” —Deborah Serani, PsyD
If a partner has a mental illness, it is also essential to know the available support network that can assist the couple while they are undergoing this type of crisis. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to every marriage problem. Both partners should evaluate their relationship and decide on what’s best for them especially in the future context.