Discerning Marriage: Mental Illness or Depression


#1

Hello. Thanks for reading. This is my question: I found out there is a history of depression in my girlfriend’s family. We are early in our relationship, but there is great potential there for marriage and she is right in every way for me. We are chaste and grounded people and in our late twenties. After I found out that not only her mother, but her mother’s mother suffers from depression, and take medication for it, I started to wonder on the possibility of our children inheriting this disease. My question is not related to my girlfriend as I think that with medication and love we could carry this cross together if she were to ever develop it in the course of her life. But is it charitable to our children if scientifically it can be proven that it is genetically passed on, and that there could be a great chance that it will be passed to our children. Is it somehow selfish if I were to exclude her simply based on her family genes and medical history? Or truly charitable if I were thinking about my children and the genes I will pass on to them? My genes are not perfect, of course, no one’s is, but this is a clear red flag that I do not have in my family, mental illness.


#2

Depression can be easy to treat with modern medication. Of course, there are refractory cases which resist conventional medicines, but by and large depression is not a life crushing disease once it is treated.

I don’t think genetic worries would stop me. Heck, who knows what treatments will be available in 20 years? The progress of medicine during the past 100 years has been amazing, and it keeps on advancing. :slight_smile:


#3

Don’t do it. My ex sufferers from depression, so does his mom. In fact, she has been on anti-depressant medication for many, many years. Barely functions without it.

Stay friends, live close by, visit often. Don’t get married.


#4

The choice is yours. How severe is the depression? I say focus on now. Develop your relationship with this woman. Marry her for her, not the children you may or may not produce. Modern treatments for depression will only get better with time. God bless.


#5

Just because people have family with depression doesn’t mean they or their children will. Sure there might be a genetic disposition for it but people usually have to be in a certain environment in order for it to show.

My mother and father and several other members of my family have suffered from depression, I have also but I know that had I not been abused for most of my youth that wouldn’t be the case. Several of my sisters and their family have been fine. I don’t think just because someone’s family has depression automatically means everyone in the family will. Everyone’s different and has different life experiences. I believe certain things must happen in ones life in order for a mental disorder to show itself.

If it bugs you that much, that you would leave the woman you love just because she might someday need help getting through a rough time, or your children might, then please don’t marry her. She deserves better than that. And good luck finding anyone in this world who doesn’t have relatives who have depression. Its the most common mental illness out there.

Good luck in your life.


#6

I’m with homewardbound. Since not all babies are born with 10 toes and ten fingers, if there is the remotest chance that she will get the blame for whatever because of genes, or even you blaming yourself, it’s bound to be a miserable marriage.

Several years ago there was a broadcast journalist who had malformed hands. It was genetic. When she got pregnant, and because she was in the public eye so much, she received a lot of criticism for deciding to have children that could possibly be born with the same defect (and I think they were). Did she do the wrong thing? Should she have remained single the rest of her life because she carried imperfect genes? Should she have aborted the children that inherited the children with the malformation? What say you?


#7

If you love her and she loves you marry her and trust God to take care of your children. 1Peter5:7 preety much says it all.


#8

My concern was not so much dealing with her disease once we are married, or helping our children through a tough time, but my being anxious about passing on depression (her mother takes a form of Lithium) to the children. Since passing on depression to my children could have been avoided, if I just waited in God’s providence and chose someone else who did not have this clear red flag. Aren’t there some valid red flags that we should avoid? I have been ruled out because I was married civilly in the past.

And since we have not started a more intimate courtship, we are not so in love yet (though there is great potential) that I couldn’t consider giving her up for the sake of these children (that I may or may not have, though it is likely we will be blessed with them). Much like what Holly3278 seems to be stating in how she is afraid for the children (and herself) in this parallel thread:

The question I was trying to expose was: is it justifiable in the eyes of the Lord to do my own version of natural selection, in other words, am I free to rule out a potential partner based on heredity, giving up the chemistry I have with her, for a cold and calculated discernment based on her genes? Are genes ever a justifiable element of marriage discernment? Or is depression just not one of those items?

Yet, after reflection I think that **estesbob ** hit at the heart of the matter:
*1 Peter 5:7 says, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern” *

Thanks everyone for you input!


#9

Go for it!!! A lot of successful people suffer from depression. the only thing that would caution me is if there was Schizophrenia in her family then I would say marry her anyway but do not have children. like everyone says it is very successfully treated to where the only way you would know is if they told you. God bless Scoob.


#10

I think the real issue here is whether your girlfriend herself has a history of mental illness, and particularly a history of illness out of control. Consider that any mental or emotional problems that your girlfriend has now will only get worse after marriage.


#11

Can you determine the degree of depression? Is it minor bouts, consistent, or does it show up for many years than go away?

How healthy is her lifestyle? I do believe that genetics plays a part and that depression is an illness, but I also believe that lifestyle and healthy eating has a lot of influence. Does she have a foundation of healthy eating and living?


#12

I concur with some previous posts.

Focus on your relationship with this young woman.

If she does not have Mental illness then start with that.

If she has depression/mental illness you need to deterimine how that will effect your realtionships. It is very difficult to have an intimate relationship with a person in this condition, but not impossible.

This should be the basis of your discernment.


Let God handle any future children.

If they have any sort of pysical or mental disability, that child would still be God’s gift to you. Don’t practice self-eugenics.

Also - you will need to discuss who the children can (and cannot ) be cared for in the family. Since you know there is a history.


FYI -
If you find out that your girlfriend has mental illness you will need to determine if it can be stabilized with Psychotherapy and medication.

If you get married you will need to discuss coping strategies in your relationship and determine when children will be tried for.
… And how they will be raised when she is having difficult spells.

You will also need to really be carefull about trying pregnancy if she is on any medication that has birth defect warnings.

God Bless You

I’ll pray for your right discernment.

tjp


#13

I agree with this. Otherwise, why stop with depression–what about heart disease, diabetes, etc., etc.? You, your future wife, and kids will all get sick. They will have something wrong with them at some point. That’s life. Being the spouse of a bipolar person or one with major depression is a difficult calling that not everyone can handle–if your girlfriend has these issues, you do have to discern if you can handle them for the rest of your life. So, discern your relationship with this girl; leave your prospective kids in God’s hands.


#14

I don’t think the potential for passing on a genetic illness is a legitimate reason to end a relationship… at least if you are not the carrier, after all if she wants children, she will get married to someone else and have children anyway. More importantly though, we all carry a host of defects that we probably would not want to pass on to children… I have a tendency to be overweight, stomach cancer runs in my family, etc… If everyone decided not to pass on the defects, well, the human race would disappear awfully quick.


Bill


#15

Hello mchale, aurora77, uncleauberon, hasikelee and **everyone ** else who has continued to post. Each one of your posts makes me reflect on a new particular angle. This is great.

Here briefly, how my opinion is shaping up:

I should focus on my relationship with this girl, not ignoring my feelings about her potential to have depression, but understanding if she is the one for me, that I would fight any difficulty at her side, with the Grace of God, since this would only bring me closer to God. It is up to me to determine if I should “mercy out” now, basing it on my ability to accept Grace to deal with the possible difficulties (which I hope is huge!).

I should not consider genetic problems passed on to children as a factor because it is not substantial to my relationship with her since God is responsible for giving us the gift of children. And I should be focused on my wife first and foremost.

I should continue to pray, discern and trust God for he *is * concerned with me personally.

:thumbsup:


#16

Although this is pure opinion and speculation on the matter, here is my opinion on mental illness. While it is definitely genetic it is also environmental. Provide the right kind of family environment and the mental illness hopefully will not ocurr. Just think of the alternative. You dump this girl becase you think she might be mentally ill or have bad genes and then she ends up marrying some other person, since I would be willing to bet she will still end up marrying. Only this next person is not Catholic or at least does not have Catholic values and might just have a mental hisotry for himself. Now those kids are the ones that will be messed up if that ends up as a disfumctional family which it very well might be. If you think this is the right one for you then what are you worried about anyways? If you are both Catholic and have good values, won’t God help you out?


#17

It sounds reassuring to hear that this girl has not yet developed symptoms of depression. I would urge you to follow the advice of some earlier posters and find out the degree of depression that has penetrated the bloodline. I was adopted by a man when I was 4 years old so that my mother would marry him. I’m not sure what came first: the poor treatment of my new dad, or the depression. It started as OCD and morphed to nearly debilitating depression. My family wasn’t church-going, but I tried to understand the existence of GOD. Picture a 12 year-old praying EVERY NIGHT for death, that a Merciful God might take me in my sleep and spare that dreary existence. As I would reach puberty, I would look for ways to end my life, but I never had the “guts” to do it. That just made me more depressed.

By the Grace of God, I made it to adulthood and saw doctors who recognized my problem and put me on meds to help. Then I finally meet my birth-father…Questions were answered. Depression has ravaged the males on that side of the family for generations. The parents I grew up with chose not to let me know, because THAT MAN"S NAME IS NOT TO BE UTTERED IN THIS HOUSE! They let me suffer all of those years. I still question how anyone could let a child go through that. The only answers I can come up with is that I looked just like my bio-dad. Also, mom and adoptive-dad had their own child when I was 10. I was clearly a burden for this man, so he took it out on me…a child.

What I’m saying is: know what you are getting into before hand. Depression is absolutely manageable, but you have to be a loving, especially-supportive spouse for the marriage, and her, to be healthy. Sensitivity and a calm, steady hand is what you’ll need to have.

May GOD Bless you, your girl-friend, and all visitors to this site.

kingship (Baptized and Confirmed in to Christ’s One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - Easter Vigil; 4 years ago) :slight_smile:


#18

It sounds reassuring to hear that this girl has not yet developed symptoms of depression. I would urge you to follow the advice of some earlier posters and find out the degree of depression that has penetrated the bloodline. I was adopted by a man when I was 4 years old so that my mother would marry him. I’m not sure what came first: the poor treatment by my new dad, or the depression. It started as OCD and morphed to nearly debilitating depression. My family wasn’t church-going, but I tried to understand the existence of GOD. Picture a 12 year-old praying EVERY NIGHT for death, that a Merciful God might take me in my sleep and spare that dreary existence. As I would reach puberty, I would look for ways to end my life, but I never had the “guts” to do it. That just made me more depressed.

By the Grace of God, I made it to adulthood and saw doctors who recognized my problem and put me on meds and got me counseling to help. Then I finally meet my birth-father…Questions were answered! Depression has ravaged the males on that side of the family for generations. The parents I grew up with chose not to let me know, because THAT MAN"S NAME IS NOT TO BE UTTERED IN THIS HOUSE! They let me suffer all of those years. I still question how anyone could let a child go through that. The only answers I can come up with is that I looked just like my bio-dad. Also, mom and adoptive-dad had their own child when I was 10. I was clearly a burden for this man, so he took it out on me…a child.

What I’m saying is: know what you are getting into before hand. Depression is absolutely manageable, but you have to be a loving, especially-supportive spouse for the marriage, and her, to be healthy. Sensitivity and a calm, steady hand is what you’ll need to have.

May GOD Bless you, your girl-friend, and all visitors to this site.

kingship (Baptized and Confirmed in to Christ’s One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - Easter Vigil; 4 years ago) :slight_smile:


#19

As a person with depression issues, I can absolutely tell you I’d much rather be alive and taking my antidepressants than to have never been born. Life kicks butt! :slight_smile:

Edited to add: Depression is not neccessarily genetic or inherited. And huge percentages of women have depression at some point in their lives. I wouldn’t give up on her just because of this issue. Any other woman you meet has a good chance of dealing with similar problems at some point.


#20

Since 1 out of 3 persons will develop some kind of mental disorder in their lifetime, the risk of meeting another person that might have some sort of mental disorder in the future is very high, You can even run the risk of become one yourself.

I don’t want to be rude, but I can’t help thinking about that there once was a man who tried to play God. Among others he wanted to select among normals and mentally disabled. The last group he tried to kill. His name was Adolph Hitler. I have visited Auswich (a WW II Consentration Camp in Poland) and I have seen films that are showed only for visitors. I didn’t sleep for two weeks after that.

It’s OK to look at yourself and your capacity to cope with a potentially future wife and children, but then you have to think of other disorders too: Can you cope with a mentally retard (also complete so called normals get mentally retarded children)? Can you cope with a child with diabetes (They need your patience and your capacity for planning ahead. If you are going for a long trip you have to have planned where and when to stop to eat. Your child will need balance in his/hers sugar-intake)? How about Asthma (you might have to get up in the night to put your child under the shower because the bronchial tube needs it)? What about heart-disease (your child might need you extra because she/he is teased among the other pupils; no good in gymnastic)? Disease in the kidneys, can you live with that (the child might happen to be brought often to hospital for dialysis)? What if the baby is born too early (it might have ADHD and concentration problems and perhaps not do it well at school)?

Well, enough from me about that, YesIamBlind. :slight_smile: I experience you like a very kind and reflected person. You think about what you can manage to carry on your shoulders. That means that you are a responsible person! Remember God never gives us burdens that are too heavy for us to carry. I think you have already realized that your post was a moral post also. I want to thank you for it! Your post can have opened the eyes of many readers. Now they will have to think and perhaps re-think their own moral values. :rolleyes:

FYI: Lithium is medication for Bipolar Disorder (not for Depression alone).


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