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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can I do about my depression and my marriage?

    I have suffered from depression officially for the last 4-5 years however I think I may have had it all my life. I can't remember a time when I ever felt truly happy and I am not sure if that is a result of depression, blocking any happiness in my life out or just that I have never been truly happy.

    I have been married for almost 6yrs and I don't feel happy. Again, I don't know if this is a result of depression - At times I feel I married my husband because he was the only one to accept me for who I am (I also have herpes which causes me a great deal of shame & embarrassment even after 20+ years).

    I also feel that he settled for me as well as there just doesn't seem to be anything between us.

    At times the relationship reminds me of being a booty call friend because there is just nothing (i.e. communication, special time together etc) but he still wants sex & gets upset if I don't because I don't have any intimate feelings - Again, not sure if this is depression or us not meant 2b.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Dr Janine Clarke

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Janine Clarke is a Clinical Psychologist with experience working with individuals and couples. Janine has trained extensively in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and … View Profile

    I'm sorry to hear that you have been stuggling for such a long time, and that you appear not to experience any enjoyment and happiness in your life. This must be very tough on you.

    You say you have suffered 'officially' with depression for the past 4-5 years.  Does this mean that you have been formally diagnosed with the condition, and have you sought treatment?  Effective treatments for depressive symptoms do exist, including face-to-face psychological therapy and anti-depressant medication.  If you have not sought treatment, it might be worthwhile speaking with your general practitioner about the treatment options available to you.  If you qualify for a mental health care plan under Medicare, you will be able to receive at least 6 rebateable sessions of psychological therapy.

    The inability to experience enjoyment or pleasure (out of things that are 'normally' considered pleasurable) is called 'anhedonia', and is a core symptom of depression.  The term is of Greek origin - 'a' (without), 'hedone' (happiness, pleasure).  Some have suggested that it is anhedonia that 'keeps depression going', as in the absence of finding anything pleasurable, it is difficult to be motivated and to engage fully with life.

    Because anhedonia tends to be pervasive, it is very likely impacting your ability to find pleasure and happiness in your marriage.  At the same time, your depression is likely to impact the way you remember things that have happended in your life.  For example, studies show that depressed people tend to remember things in 'general' rather than 'specific' ways, and that there is a bias towards remembering negative general information, or 'themes'.  This is perhaps why you find it difficult to remember whether you ever felt happy.

    Psychotherapeutic approaches, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), have been demonstrated to help people better deal with the symptoms of depression and move on to create more meaningful and rewarding lives.  You might like to discuss these approaches with your GP.

    I hope this is useful for you, and wish you all the best. 

  • I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    It sounds like you have been experiencing a really tough time. Depression really effects relationships and it is impossible to know if your relationship is not meant to be without first dealing with the depression. The reason for this is that depression effects our thinking. It alters our perceptions and it negatively impacts so much of our experience. It is worth having some couples counselling/individual counselling. Wherever you go therever you are. In other words, if you leave a relationship wihtout dealing with the underlying problems, you just take the same problems that show up in a diferent form into the next relationship. There are many skills and tools a good therapist can teach you. Although we all want to feel happy in our relationships, it is not up to the relationship to make us happy. We need to being a postive attitude to the relationship and we need to nurture the relationship as well as nurture ourselves. That way it becomes more an experience of what can I give to the relationship not what can I get from it. This needs to be mutual and when this happens it builds a sense of partnership. Understanding this and understanding more about each other helps us know what our partners need and what we feel comfortable giving. Happiness is a by-product of such mutually enriching relationships. It may not even be the end goal but is what grows spontaneously from being prepared to do the growing that intimate relationships require of us.

    All the best.

  • John Toomey

    HealthShare Member

    There is some great advise in the answers provided.

    Sometimes, however, a simple shift in perspective, whilst it may not completely resolve the situation, can make things better.

    One often helpful exercise is to sit quietly for a while and write down the longest list you can of all the things in your life that you are really grateful for and allow yourself time to conetmplate each thing on that list.

    JTx

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