Depression is a real illness that causes real suffering. But depression sufferers who are married or in committed relationships don't suffer alone. People living in close quarters are quite sensitized to each other's moods and actions, and when one spouse spends most of his or her time depressed, with the attendant complaining, moping, worrying, criticizing, crying or complete withdrawal, it's not surprising that the other spouse's emotional state will be negatively affected as well.

Research backs up the theory that one person's depression affects his or her partner's emotional state. According to a study conducted at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Brown University Medical School, a spouse's mental health has a direct effect on the other partner's happiness with the marriage. In this study, 774 married couples were analyzed for depression and anxiety as well as their marital satisfaction. Subjects who were depressed reported less satisfaction with their marriages, and their partners were less happy with their marriages as well. An anxious partner did not have as much effect on the happiness of the marriage as a depressed one. Not surprisingly, the more depressed one spouse was, the less satisfied both spouses were with their marriage.

Doctors leading the study stressed how crucial it is for both partners to have mental-health evaluations when they're unhappy with their relationship. If one or both partners are depressed, the damage to the marriage can actually cause the marriage to fail. And since difficult or broken relationships can lead to depression, failing to get marital counseling perpetuates the depressive cycle. The best time to get help? When things are just starting to get bad between two people or within a family. Marriage counseling, individual therapy, and/or antidepressants all can help save a fraying relationship and restore happiness to both partners.