Feature Archive

Divorcing Depression

Keeping your relationship together can be hard enough, without having to deal with depression or anxiety. Here's what to expect and how to cope when psychological problems come into play.

BySarahAlbert
WebMD Feature

Reviewed ByBrunilda Nazario,MD

Does this sound like you or your significant other -- excessive sleepiness or insomnia, appetite changes, a libido that's kaput, and unwanted, nasty feelings of depression or anxiety that just won't quit? Or maybe it's a condition with names like OCD or ADHD that's left you or your mate emotionally and physically bankrupt. It's easy to find couples who are struggling with mental health problems despite the stigma and shame that may keep many people from talking about it. After all, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that during any given year one in five adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in the U.S. alone. Just as easy to find are couples who haven't made it through the struggle.

"One of the main reasons for marital problems and divorce is unrecognized depression," says Anne Sheffield, author of Depression Fallout, a book about how depression affects relationships. Having suffered from depression herself -- depression that also afflicted her mother and daughter -- she knows firsthand how devastating it can be for both partners. Mental health problems take their toll on relationships, and often people don't even realize what's happening.