Mental health is a complicated topic – everyone is a little bit different, and it can be extremely difficult to diagnose, treat, and understand problems like depression, anxiety, and other mental/emotional troubles.
Sometimes symptoms indicate serious disorders. Other times they don’t indicate anything beyond a particularly difficult time in someone’s life. However, because of the world we live in, many people seek treatment, and are eventually prescribed anti-depressants.
Now, before we go any further, it should be noted that we are not making a case for or against anti-depressants or any other psychiatric medication. For many people, prescriptions greatly improve their quality of life, while yet many others experience problems because of misdiagnosis, the wrong prescriptions, or even the wrong dosages. Our purpose here is to raise awareness about potential problems.
With that said, anti-depressants can (and have) caused serious problems for marriages. Their purpose is to alter brain chemistry – and for the right person at the right dosage, it can significantly help improve symptoms. However, for some people, the changes to the brain’s chemicals can have some seriously adverse effects on relationships.
The main problems are pretty straightforward: anti-depressants and SSRIs boost levels of serotonin and reduce production of dopamine. While this helps control anxiety and alleviate depression, it also reduces the chemicals associated with feelings of love and connection – as well as sexual desire.
While these side effects are common, many people are either unaware or ignore their doctor’s warnings – and eventually come to believe that the problems they face in their marriages are unrelated to the medication.
For some people, anti-depressants can affect the ability to reach orgasm, reduce sexual response and arousal, and even stunt feelings of closeness and connectivity. When these important pieces of the marriage are impaired, fights, disconnection, and distance are all but inevitable.
Again, anti-depressants have helped many people overcome debilitating depression and other mental health problems, but because of the impact they can have on our ability to form and maintain relationships – particularly marriages – simple awareness can go a long way in keeping those relationships alive and well.
If this is something you’ve experienced, either on medication yourself or with a spouse battling with depression, remember that it’s NOT dysfunction in your marriage or loss of love, but a very direct, chemical effect of the medication. This is no reason to let a rift form in your marriage, but instead a reason to stay close and support one another through the difficult time.
Unfortunately, untreated depression can also have devastating consequences, so it’s important to strike a balance that works for your unique relationship. If you or your spouse is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental/emotional problems, you should certainly seek help. Depending on treatment, however, and how that treatment impacts your particular marriage, it will be up to you, your spouse, and your doctor to find the best methods for dealing with the problems without creating new ones.
It’s a fine line to walk, and one with many pitfalls, but with the each other’s support and an understanding of how medication can affect the way you feel, you don’t have to let chemical changes in your body change the love you hold in your heart. Work together to keep your marriage strong!