It’s never easy to watch someone we love go through something difficult - especially when we can’t seem to alleviate the pain or struggle that they’re feeling. When your spouse or partner is experiencing depression or anxiety, it’s natural to feel a sense of helplessness. But there are practical ways that you can support your spouse and walk alongside them as they walk through depression or anxiety.
1. Be willing to just listen
A common misconception when someone you love is struggling with depression or anxiety is the desire to “fix” what your loved one is experiencing. But there’s no quick or easy fix to mental health - and sometimes the best first step can be to choose to actively listen to your loved one when they’re willing to expand on their thoughts, feelings, fears, worries, and struggles. Offer space for them to speak out loud about everything going on in their minds.
Even if you don’t always agree with what your spouse is thinking and feeling, by choosing to listen to them before trying to offer solutions, you are giving them a safe space to express what they’re experiencing and showing them that you respect what they’re going through.
2. Encourage healthy habits
When someone is experiencing depression or anxiety, simple healthy habits can become increasingly hard to accomplish. This is a great opportunity for you to step in and offer positive opportunities for your spouse to make healthy choices - like encouraging extra rest, accompanying them when they choose to face hard situations, caring for them by cooking a healthy meal, or offering up ways to get outside when the sun is shining (linked to increased serotonin levels) or do some light exercising.
Make sure you’re not pushing or pressuring your spouse to do too much, but by being their cheerleader and offering your support of healthy habits, you can make it simpler for them to choose a positive habit in the future.
3. Connect them with additional support
Depression and anxiety run rampant in isolation, so you can support your spouse by getting them connected with social and professional help from those around them who have experience with mental health. This can include local community groups, groups and programs at LCBC or another local church, and mental health support groups as well as a professional counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
Break the stigma of negativity around mental health by normalizing these groups and services and even offering to engage with them alongside your spouse if they feel comfortable with you doing so. If you’re looking for a counselor in your area, our Pastoral Response Team can help you find one.
4. Don't underestimate the power of prayer
Depression and anxiety are very real, and they may seem overwhelming - but God is bigger than anything and everything we face, and he wants us to come to him in prayer as we face big things and small ones. Committing to praying for your spouse and the struggles they’re facing - as well as praying for how you can continue to support them - is just as important as everything else on this list. Take the time to give everything to God and trust that he has your spouse’s best interest in mind, always.
Remember that although it can feel daunting to try to care for your loved one when they’re experiencing depression or anxiety, you are not responsible for trying to cure or change them. The best thing you can do is take steps towards caring for them in practical ways and be a support system for them as they work towards recovery.
If you or your spouse would like to talk to someone about personal mental health struggles or the struggles of a loved one, we’d love to start that conversation with you.
Beating a season of depression might not happen overnight. Change happens in small, incremental steps – but it does come! Here are some more resources to help you navigate depression:
Mental Health ResourcesMy Depression is Getting Worse, Now What?Does Mental Illness Make You a Bad Christian?
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!