when a spouse is depressed

7 Signs Your Spouse is Depressed

Published on December 13, 2019 by First Responder Wellness

Depression is a complex disease that can cause different symptoms to develop in different people.  Some people appear visibly sad and deprived of energy when they are depressed, while others maintain a high-functioning personality and work ethic.  Depression can even go unnoticed by those closest to us, such as partners in intimate relationships. As the spouse of someone who might be struggling with depression, it is important to look out for the signs of this condition and talk to your partner about seeking help if necessary. 


One of the first noticeable signs of a depressed spouse is the tendency to self-isolate by avoiding social interactions or making excuses about missing events.  Depression drains people of their physical and mental energy, and can make small talk and other social conventions seem incredibly taxing. Additionally, people struggling with depression might be embarrassed about their inability to appear “normal” in public settings, and attempt to avoid uncomfortable situations entirely.  

Lack of Punctuality

A typically punctual spouse who suddenly seems to show up late everywhere you go might be feeling unmotivated due to the effects of depression.  Depression comes with several physical and mental symptoms that make everyday tasks such as getting dressed and driving feel strenuous. People with depression may have a hard time meeting deadlines and showing up on time because every step of the process to get from point A to B feels like a marathon.


While most people associate depression with sadness, it can also cause someone to feel grumpy and irritable.  If you notice your partner suddenly has a short fuse, or reacts angrily to seemingly small inconveniences or changes in plans, they may be struggling with something larger than a bad attitude.  It can be hard to remain understanding towards your partner when they become increasingly defensive and hostile, but it might be worth talking to your spouse about how they are feeling and where their temper is coming from before seeing every incident as a personal attack.

Changes in Appearance

If you are in a relationship for a long time, you will no doubt witness changes in your partner’s appearance as different circumstances lead to changes in weight and grooming.  But a sudden change in appearance that doesn’t make sense could be a sign of depression. Many people gain or lose weight while depressed, either using food as a source of comfort or losing their appetites entirely.  Additionally, some people begin to lose their sense of pride in their appearance, which can cause them to neglect regular grooming routines like doing their hair or brushing their teeth.  


While some people with depression feel constantly flooded with emotion, others experience a sense of apathy that leaves them not caring about much at all.  This may start with losing interest in hobbies and activities they were once passionate about, and progress into losing interest in more important aspects of life like their career and parenting.  You may also notice this symptom when you try to talk to them about how their behavior makes you feel. It can be difficult to try to express yourself to someone who doesn’t seem to care, but it is important to remember that under the weight of depression your partner might have little mental energy for much else.

Difference in Sleep Patterns

Depression can lead to multiple sleep issues.  Some people with depression will sleep far more often than they did when mentally well, and it may seem like they are constantly going to bed early, sleeping in, and taking naps.  Others will experience insomnia and have trouble sleeping at all, or may stay up late into the night watching television. Some people experience issues with erratic sleep when they are depressed, such as waking up often throughout the night, or having trouble sleeping at night while wanting to sleep in the daytime instead.  If your spouse is exhibiting a sudden shift in sleep patterns that can’t be tied to a logical cause, they may be having mental health issues.

Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, substance abuse and mental illness go hand in hand for many people.  Depression and anxiety are common causes of substance abuse, as many people turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their symptoms and manage intense emotions.  This may work as a very temporary fix, but ultimately will worsen mental health issues and possibly lead to addiction. Addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses should be treated using a program equipped to provide a dual diagnosis.    


The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses.  We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers, and that existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially difficult. Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career or a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships.  By taking a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, Simple Recovery makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community, and at Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we believe in dedicating our time and expertise to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490.