One of the hardest demographics that I coach is a couple, where one partner is suffering from depression. They are such a challenging demographic because the individuals with depression may look perfectly healthy, and their partners simply do not understand the situation, so they tend to lack compassion.
Sometimes, the people we love are in pain. The pain our partners may experience is not always a pain that can be seen. It is easy to conclude that a person is in pain when we see that person in a cast, or other physical signs of illness. When we can see it, it becomes much easier to accept that the person we love will simply not be able to do the things we would normally expect him or her to do.
However, invisible pain can be every bit of devastating as the pain that we can physically see.
In some cases, the person who is depressed and may not even be aware of the mental illness exists. In cases where a partner ends up in a depression, interest in sex can be the first thing to go, and one of the last things to return if and when the depression passes. When the interest in sex fades, some couples seek coaching, while others wait until the resentment and symptomatic problems of couples not having sex, surface to the point they can no longer be ignored or tolerated. At that point, a lot of damage has already been done.
If there was one bit of advice that I want to communicate to both the depressed person and the coping partner it is this:
If a person lacks the self-awareness to detect his or her own depression, it is very possible that such a person would blame their misery on their partner.
This can be very hurtful to the partner, who is usually innocent of any wrongdoing. A depressed person (not knowing he or she is depressed) may independently conclude that the loss of libido MUST be a result of the partner, and may verbalize such conclusions attributing it to anything from holiday weight gain, to not keeping up with chores. A depressed mind is unable to think clearly and out of hurt and anguish may lash out at a loved one. A loved one being lashed out at may fire back out of feelings of fear and rejection, which only aggravates the issues.
If you or someone you love is experiencing a low sexual libido, before either of you accuse the other of horribleness that will surely hurt your relationship, stop and take a moment to ask if the lack of sex drive may be a symptom of depression, and seek out the help of a trained professional for a diagnosis. Do not let a depression destroy the good love you have in your life, regardless of what side of it you are on.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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