Case study shared by Dr. Avani Tiwari
Since getting hitched seems like every young person’s dream day, post-wedding depression is a phenomenon that is almost unheard of. When one gets married, one assumes they’re embarking on the most fascinating journey of their life which will be filled with happiness and new experiences. While all of that may be true indeed, not everything about this life altering decision is that simple.
Getting married can be a huge deal and for some, it can become a terrifyingly overwhelming experience. So when the wedding bells stop ringing , everyone is done clinking their glasses to the new couple, the after party is over – the post wedding blues might start to kick in when one’s reality sets in.
What Is Post-Wedding Depression?
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The thing with the period before the wedding and the wedding planning phase is, is that it keeps you super occupied and excited about what’s to come. One is so consumed with kicking off their marriage on the right note, that perhaps the truth of life after the wedding does not occur to one easily.
Suddenly one day, when your honeymoon is over and you’re in a new house with a new spouse, feelings of a post-wedding depression might start to hit you. Now that you have finally have had time to yourself and to process what has just happened, somehow you are unable to grapple with the enormity of it all. Read this account to understand how and why one could be feeling depressed after marriage.
How my life changed after I got married
It all started with my coming to Delhi.
I’m a 29-year-old graduate from a satellite town near Delhi. I had an arranged marriage 2 years ago and moved to Delhi.
I was a very confident, strong girl before marriage with lots of friends. I was the person people came to with their problems. I never worried about small issues. I loved shopping, knew a lot about women’s fashion tips, watched music channels incessantly or had earphones on the whole day. I was looking forward to this next chapter in my life and thought getting married and going to Delhi would be fun.
It was. For a few months.
My husband and I enjoyed the first few months together immensely. We would be out every evening, shopping at small markets for cheap trinkets, eating roadside stuff, roaming about on bike or cycle-rickshaw. There was a movie every Sunday and a trip home, on the bike, every month.
Gradually the honeymoon ended and my post-wedding depression initiated.
When he no longer had time for me
My husband was promoted at his workplace and got a huge opportunity to lead a team for a project for 3 months and his hours at work increased. I was left alone at home the whole day. I had started to study for my post graduation and figured it would be a good thing to concentrate on it.
But it wasn’t so easy. I can’t even tell you when it started going downhill. First, I’d spend a lot of time doing nothing. No work at home, no studies, no outside errands. Just hours of emptiness. After a while, I even stopped cooking for myself, I’d just make a meal of bread or instant noodles when I felt hungry, which was less and less often. I’d be in my bed the entire morning, rarely bathed before noon and lounged around the whole day in my nightgown. I wondered, am I going through depression? But I guess these were signs of my post-wedding blues.
I didn’t study at all. Often, dinner would be my only meal. I started getting frequent headaches and I could not understand why. My husband was busy, but even he noticed something was amiss. He took me to a doctor who prescribed painkillers for the headaches, sleeping pills and multi-vitamins.
When those 3 months were over, I thought everything would go back to normal. But no, it only got worse. My husband’s hours remained longer and we started fighting over small things. I thought I was being neglected and he said I was the one ignoring him and our home.
I didn’t get up till late, the house was a mess, the daily chores neglected and outside errands ignored. I would be in bed the whole night without sleep, crying or tossing and turning, even with double the dose of sleeping pills. I barely had energy to get up in the morning. I had stopped listening to music. Some days were bad, others were worse.
Related Reading: How To Beat Boredom In A Relationship?
Feeling depressed after marriage
It was like someone had sucked my life force out of me.
My husband tried to help, to cheer me up, took me shopping and we’d go on dates where I blamed him for getting me out in such hot weather. He took me to a movie where we fought in the interval and returned, me crying, he fuming. “What’s wrong with you,” he asked.
“Everything,” I answered.
That night I decided enough is enough. I had toyed with the idea of ending my life before. I had tried cutting my wrist a month prior. My husband had no idea it wasn’t a ‘bangle accident’. But I told my mother and she scolded me on my ‘stupidity’. You have everything anyone can ask for, a good husband, no financial trouble, no restrictions. Why would you waste it all away on some mere whim of your mind, she said.
Not a whim, ma. I wanted to say. But couldn’t.
I took all the pills I had left from the headache prescription and swallowed them all.
I had no idea what happened after but I was told that my husband found the empty strips and suspected something wrong when I didn’t wake up. He was terrified and I was admitted to the hospital where they pumped out the medicines.
I remained in the ICU for 2 days and during that time, my whole family was summoned from my hometown. The police came and took my statement. I told them I had too much pain so I’d taken all the pills and I had no intention of dying.
But I had. Or did I?
Post-Wedding Depression Is A Real Thing
I was visited by a psychiatrist in the hospital ICU. At first I lied to her also, but she only smiled and said we will talk later when I ‘felt’ well enough to sit up.
Did she care about what I felt?
Anyway, on day three, I visited her at her clinic. At first, I didn’t know what to tell her, but she insisted I tell her whatever I could. She suggested I start at the beginning.
Gradually, in parts, between much sobbing and crying and even anger, I recounted my story. I thought I was just being a crazy wife but even I didn’t know I had so much buried inside me. Our first session lasted hardly 20 minutes. But I was discharged that day and promised to follow up with her only because I wanted to tell her the whole thing. Only because she listened and did not seem to judge.
Now, why is that important?
Because I remembered how my mother had scolded me. If your mom didn’t understand you, who else could?
But the doctor did. Though I did face the music at home. Two sets of parents, both ready to blame me, my parents angry at me, defensive in front of my in-laws. My husband bewildered. There were questions, explanations, advise, suggestions, and judgment. I’m sure they thought I was crazy.
When I went to the psychiatrist for the second time, I asked her point blank. What is wrong with me? Am I crazy?
Then she told me about post-wedding depression. We talked. She asked, I answered. Then I asked, she answered. I told her how I felt. She told me what could be done to make it better.
Can I really get better?
Was that possible?
Yes, she told me about medicines and psychotherapy to deal with mental depression after marriage. I was initially skeptical about medicines. Why did I need them? Then she explained to me the concept of neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) and their role in depression. How their imbalance because of new relationship anxiety can cause mood problems.
Reluctantly, I agreed. I didn’t want to feel what I had felt that night.
It’s been four months now since I started the treatment and I haven’t felt that way till now. I sleep better, without any sleeping pills. I’m feeling much better, my confidence has returned. I want to listen to music again.
Related Reading: How I fought my depression and won
It’s not easy but you have to do it
It wasn’t all easy. It took me a couple of weeks to see the effect of medicines kick in. I remember at the end of three weeks, I actually got up and made breakfast. That was when I realized I was feeling better and perhaps finally conquering my post-wedding depression.
I started my psychotherapy sessions 6 weeks later. My psychologist and I worked out several of my small daily issues along with my faulty styles of coping with depression. She taught me to handle stressful things in a better way. I wish I had come earlier.
My husband supported me all the way. Initially, he, too, was skeptical at the thought of going to see a doctor but one meeting and he changed his views. He even attended two of my therapy sessions. He told the psychologist jokingly, ‘when you finish with her, then I’ll be next.’
I have had a total of 8 sessions till now, 4 more to go. Two months of medicines remaining. My psychiatrist has assured me I will be weaned off them without much trouble.
It seems she gave me back my life force ever since feeling depressed after the wedding completely changed me.
From The Psychiatrist’s Desk – Post-Wedding Depression
According to the World Health Organization, 4.5% of Indians suffer from depression. It’s a leading cause of ill-health, even more than cardiovascular disorders.
Suicide is a major risk. Not counting hours spent in misery and darkness and helplessness.
Depression is certainly treatable and several times, the person may not realize it, but close friends and family members can pick up certain cues. If your partner is showing symptoms of post-wedding depression, try to get them help. Watch out for these signs first.
A low mood is a cardinal sign of depression
Though when directly asked, the victim may not admit to being depressed because they want to appear joyful about their newly married life. But unusual sadness, decreased communication, slow reactions, delayed responses, low volume of speech, all these are indicative of feeling depressed after marriage.
Related Reading: 18 Top Unhappy Marriage Signs You Need To Know
Loses interest in hobbies, work
Things that would have excited your spouse in the past no longer have any effect. For example, you used to get ice cream at a cozy place near your house and your husband used to be overjoyed at the thought of it. But now, they are not easily excited and do not want to go on dates with you anymore. He will also not be interested in sex.
Also, their concentration decreases. Memory lapses may occur as well. They’re irritable when spoken to with minimal or no provocation. Lashing out in anger over petty issues and fights is also indicative of post marriage depression.
Changes in sleep pattern
Delayed, fragmented or disturbed sleep, and waking up still tired or not refreshed. Feeling lethargic, low on energy, not wanting to move even when awake – these are all signs of depression. Getting fatigued by small tasks like brushing their teeth or taking a bath might mean that they are going through something serious.
Decreased or altered appetite
Eating junk food or heavy comfort food as a way to distract self from depression, is something that many people suffering from post-wedding blues indulge in. Binge eating starts regularly and they may also take up smoking, drinking alcohol or other drugs. You could even be dealing with a drug addict who is also self-medicating with sleeping pills.
Negative thoughts regarding self, future, world
Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty. They may keep talking about how fruitless everything is. How useless life is and may even have a death wish. Maybe they keep talking about suicide and even attempt to deliberately harm themselves.
Remember, depression is treatable, and post-wedding depression is normal. The patient may not have insight or energy and hence may not realize the need for treatment. The onus is on us to make sure that they receive the medicines/counseling needed. It can save your partner’s life.
Yes. Since marriage is such a big lifestyle change, one could experience mental depression after the wedding after being unable to cope with the same.
Not weddings per se, but being married can. Coping with loneliness in a marriage is hard especially when you are newly married, because you are still trying to understand the ropes and adjust yourself to a new life.