Navigating Darkness Together: A Guide on How to Support Your Depressed Spouse


When your partner is grappling with depression, it can feel overwhelming and challenging to know how to provide the support they need. It's important to remember that they aren't broken, and you didn't hurt them. So often, a spouse will carry the weight of their partner's depression, and it becomes something it doesn't need to be. I tell my clients that living with depression can be a very tough life. I then follow that up by telling them that loving someone with depression is also a very tough life. In this guide, we'll explore meaningful ways to help your depressed spouse, fostering a connection that can navigate the shadows of depression together.

Open Communication:

Initiate open and honest conversations about their feelings. Create a safe space where they feel heard and understood without judgment. Encouraging them to express their emotions can be crucial in building trust and connection. Be patient with this. It will only sometimes work. Often, people battling depression push the people away who are trying to help them. If they snap back, it's okay to back off, but remember that whatever anger they may express probably isn't directed at you.  

Educate Yourself:

Learn about depression to gain a deeper understanding of what your spouse is experiencing. Recognize that depression is an illness, not a choice, and familiarize yourself with the common symptoms. Knowledge can empower both of you to face the challenges with compassion. Depression is complicated and widely misunderstood. "Put on your big girl panties" isn't really a fix. In fact, phrases like that tend to do the opposite. It will make them feel even more alienated and less understood.  

Offer Emotional Support:

Be a consistent source of emotional support. Let your spouse know you are there for them, and reassure them that seeking help is okay. Knowing they have a supportive partner can alleviate some of the emotional burden.

Encourage Professional Help:

Suggest seeking professional assistance, such as therapy or counseling. A mental health professional can provide valuable tools and coping mechanisms tailored to your spouse's needs. Offer to help research and find suitable professionals together. On this one, here's a big tip. That window of opportunity may be tiny. If they agree to see someone, jump on that with all the speed you can muster. Think of it as a window of clarity or a glimpse of hope. It will close again as they retreat to their cave.

Accompany Them to Appointments:

If your spouse decides to seek professional help, offer to accompany them to appointments. This gesture can provide comfort and demonstrate your commitment to their well-being. Attend therapy sessions together if the therapist recommends it. Couples therapy can be a great option here, too. The purpose of couples therapy is often learning how to tackle things together rather than separately. One person carrying depression can still be a "we" problem that you tackle together. On top of that, it might allow them to lay down some of the burden and let you in.

Be Patient:

Understanding that healing takes time is crucial. Be patient with your spouse as they navigate their journey through depression. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations on their progress and celebrate small victories together. They aren't broken. They're acting understandably based on the intense negativity they feel.  

Foster Healthy Lifestyle Habits:

Encourage adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, as much sunshine as possible, and sufficient sleep. These factors can positively impact mood and contribute to an overall sense of well-being. I get it; these things can be challenging to incorporate into your life under the best conditions. When you're deep in a dark hole of despair, they can feel almost overwhelming. A little is better than nothing. If you can get out and take a 45-minute walk, excellent, but if 5 minutes is just all you can do, then it's 5 minutes more than 0.  

Participate in Activities Together:

Engage in activities you both enjoy, even as simple as taking a walk or watching a movie. Shared moments of joy can help strengthen your bond and provide a reprieve from the challenges of depression. Again, this is another excellent place for couples therapy. One hour a week, engaged in an activity together can help you strengthen that attachment bond and breathe more life into both of you.  

Take Care of Yourself:

Here's the hardest one. Supporting a depressed spouse can be emotionally draining, so it's essential to prioritize your well-being, too. Maintain your own mental health by seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Even if it takes a crowbar, you have to find a way to squeeze something in that recharges your battery, or depression can be the monster that eats you both.  


Helping a depressed spouse is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and unwavering support. By fostering open communication, educating yourself, and encouraging professional help, you can be a pillar of strength for your partner. Remember, facing depression together is a collaborative effort, and your support can make a significant difference in their path to healing.

If you or your partner are struggling, don't wait. You don't have to go it alone. Call me or set up a consultation, and we can discuss your options. I'm here and ready to give you the support you need.