It is normal for all of us to go through a period of sadness at some point in our lives, especially after experiencing a negative event such as losing a loved one, going through a serious illness, or losing a job. However, if you are feeling sad or cannot find pleasure in normal activities almost on a daily basis, for a long period of time (at least two weeks), and these feelings of sadness are not caused by normal bereavement (for example, if someone you loved recently passed away), then you might be suffering from depression.
You could be going through depression if, along with experiencing sad mood and a loss of interest and pleasure for a period of at least two weeks, you are also experiencing at least four of the following symptoms:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- You find it hard to sit still or you feel like doing nothing at all
- Poor appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Being in an abusive relationship is a very stressful experience and can result in you feeling depressed.
It goes without saying that your life belongs to you and you should be the one to decide how you want to live it. Unfortunately, it is often the case that abusers want to control every aspect of their partners’ lives. As a result, your partner may forbid you to do or pursue activities that interest you and that you find enjoyable. These restrictions can lead to depression.
While a healthy relationship is based on love and respect for one another, abusive relationships are all about the power and control. They constantly create stressful situations for the survivor.
As a result, some people may become depressed, while others might not. Depression has been linked to people’s biology and genetics. A person’s personality and environment also seem to play an important role in causing a person to experience feelings of depression as well.
Not having enough support from your environment can decrease your ability to deal with negative life events and therefore make you more vulnerable to depression. In many abusive relationships, the perpetrator will try to isolate the individual from their social network by forbidding them of keeping in touch with their friends, to have a job, or to leave the house. They may also insist on being present whenever the individual is meeting family or friends so that they can control what is being said. As a result, this isolation makes it even harder for those in abusive relationships to deal with depression.
Additionally, if you have gone through depression in the past and are living with family members, including in-laws, who make snide comments towards you, you are more than twice as likely to become depressed again in the future than if you were living with people who support you.
Our way of thinking can also influence whether we will develop depressive symptoms or not. It has been proposed that depression is linked to a combination of negative views of yourself (for example, ‘I am worthless’), your environment (for example, ‘there is no way I can deal with my abusive partner), and your future (for example, ‘things will always be this bad’). When these negative views interact with negative, deep-set beliefs, such as, unconsciously expecting that people in general will intentionally hurt, abuse, or take advantage of you, you may be more likely to view events more negatively. This in turn can contribute to you feeling depressed.
It has also been suggested that depression can be triggered by the feeling of hopelessness. Feeling hopeless can be caused by low self-esteem. People in abusive relationships often have their self-esteem knocked, making them more vulnerable to depression or other mental health issues.
It has been found that negative events have a greater influence, and are more likely to stick with us, than positive ones. When experiencing low mood it has also been shown that people are more likely to remember other negative events, which reinforces feelings of sadness.
Dwelling on negative events and wondering why they occurred can lead you to feel depressed. For instance, you might find yourself trying to rationalise your abusive partner’s behaviour, making excuses for it, or even blaming yourself for having caused it. Know that nobody deserves to be abused and that nothing you said or did is the reason of why you are being abused. Abusive relationships have nothing to do with how you behave; they are about the power and control your abuser has over you. Abusers will use verbal, emotional, or physical abuse in order to get what they want and in order to have their needs met, not because you have done something wrong.
You may also find it useful to view our information on different treatment options.