MENTAL illness can be a burden on any relationship, especially a marriage.

Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can cause sufferers to have low self-esteem and withdraw from socialising, negatively affecting relationships.

Untreated mental illness can also cause people with the condition to lash out at their partners in abusive or hurtful ways.

We will look at some types of mental illness and the best way to cope with them.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder causes a person to switch between manic and depressive episodes.

In a manic episode, a person might be highly energetic and excited. They might have trouble sleeping and display poor judgement and impulsive behaviour.

During a depressive episode, a person might feel completely hopeless and lose interest in everyday activities.

They might also experience sleep problems, eat too much or too little, and have difficulty focusing.

Their mood swings are exhausting for their partners, and they may become irritable or depressed.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

A traumatic event is often the underlying cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Trauma can range from an attack to a natural disaster to the loss of a loved one.

For people who have experienced trauma, the memory can often make them feel overwhelmed and intrusive.

This can cause a lot of stress and suffering for individuals and their relationships.

Symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, increased irritability, withdrawal from friends and family, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, and feelings of anxiety or guilt.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD or executive dysfunction is the inability to efficiently organise thoughts and execute tasks.

This means that people with ADHD have trouble getting things done on time, making it hard for them to manage their lives.

With ADHD, a partner must not take things personally as people with ADHD often cannot control their behaviours and words as much as they would like to, so focus on problem-solving rather than assigning blame.

Eating disorders (Bulimia or Anorexia)

Eating disorders are complex health conditions that take a huge toll on the mind and body.

Signs of eating disorders can include going to the bathroom after meals to induce vomiting, the urge and tendency to buy laxatives or diuretics, skipping meals, eating small amounts and exercising too much.

As well as wearing baggy clothes to conceal one’s body shape.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, has two symptoms: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts that you can’t control, often centred on a theme such as fear of dirt, germs or thoughts of something happening to loved ones.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or rituals that you perform to relieve the anxiety and distress caused by your obsessions.

An example of OCD is the fear of contamination, leading to obsessive hand-washing that can cause skin irritation and discomfort.

Communication is the key

Adjusting to a changed relationship dynamic can be challenging, so make sure you have the support you need.

Many support resources are available, including online therapy groups and face-to-face counselling services.

You or your partner may also want to consider joining a support group.

If your partner pulls away from you, don’t take it personally.

An important element in solving problems of this nature is communication.

Prioritise open communication, set boundaries for your relationship, and learn to accept that symptoms are inevitable.

Avoid passive-aggressive behaviour, hints and sarcasm.

Your partner may not read between the lines or pick up on subtle cues, so bring up issues directly.

Be patient, avoid giving ultimatums, and make sure your partner does not feel defensive or judgmental.

It is also vital to help them manage their symptoms, like exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, taking medications, setting a routine and going to therapy when necessary. Try not to fix things on your own.

Finally, be sensitive to your partner’s needs and don’t disregard requests such as a need to visit a doctor. It could be a subtle call for help.

Some days may be more challenging than others, but your communication ability will help both of you get through the hard times together. In addition to a display of compassion and empathy.

Final say

The essential factor in preventing marriages from falling apart under the pressure of mental illness is the commitment to making the relationship a priority.

Both partners must attempt to care for each other’s well-being and to communicate their needs openly.

Dr Praveena Rajendra is a certified mental health and awareness practitioner specialising in narcissistic abuse recovery. Comments: