All relationships have their up’s and down’s and periods where things run smoothly and times when it feels like they are falling apart. All couples will have arguments and disagree on certain issues and, in fact, all relationships have what we call “perpetual problems” – problems that are specific to the couple and tend to come up repeatedly no matter how many times you feel you have resolved them.
Healthy relationships experience these problems but are able to resolve them in respectful, gentle ways. Troubled relationships, on the other hand, tend to feel stuck and arguments quickly escalate. When one, or both, partner is struggling with depression or anxiety then the issues in the relationship become compounded and it can be really difficult to navigate out of the conflict.
In many ways we rely on our relationships for our mental and emotional wellbeing. When we are in a happy relationship then we feel great, but the converse is also true. When we are in a difficult and troubled relationship then we tend to feel down and distressed. This can cause a vicious cycle whereby the issues in the relationship become so difficult that depression and anxiety result and, as a result of the anxiety and depression, the issues are not easily resolved.
When depression and anxiety are present within a relationship the problems become compounded. Insecurity and mistrust may develop when one partner is feeling hopeless and worthless (symptoms of depression). Their anxiety could get the better of them in their wanting to control their environment and, consequently, their partner. As such control issues could arise perhaps wanting to know where their partner is and what they are doing at all times in the day. This sort of insecurity and mistrust can be stifling to healthy relationships and cause real damage to troubled ones.
Furthermore, a partner struggling with depression and anxiety may also experience low energy and loss of libido. Preferring to spend time on their own and, perhaps even, rebuffing their partner’s attempts at physical intimacy. One can see how this could lead to problems in a healthy relationship and just exacerbate issues in an already disengaged, troubled relationship.
When problems become overwhelming in a relationship, they can feel even more so to someone struggling with depression and feeling negative and hopeless. This can often result in a feeling of being defeated and giving up. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand and present with many of the same symptoms – namely trouble sleeping, irritability, negativity, hopelessness and low energy.
Feeling irritable in an already troubled situation can also exacerbate existing problems and make it harder for the couple to reach a resolution of conflict. As a result, if it feels like one or both of you are struggling with depression and,/or anxiety, then it is highly recommended that you seek professional assistance in dealing with the condition before it takes a severe toll on the relationship. Contact our psychologists now for assistance.
Lisa Kunde has ten years experience working as a psychologist with adults in both private and public hospital settings (oncology, palliative care, chronic pain, cardio-pulmonary, psychiatric and alcohol and other drugs units).