My Wife is Troubled: What is the Difference Between the Blues and Depression?

BY: - 12 Jun '18 | Marriage

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Dear Dr. Buckingham, I am having a hard time dealing with my wife’s emotional instability over the past three months, especially considering the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. She appears to be depressed because she loss her mother in January of this year and was laid off from her job in April. I believe that she lost her job because she could not focus or perform at work. She tells me that she is okay and is just feeling a little blue. Every time she talks about the blues I wonder if she is depressed. I am not a mental health professional so I do not know the difference. However, I do know that depression is the most common mental health disorder for those who commit suicide. I do not want to miss an opportunity to get my wife some professional help. My Wife is Troubled: What is the Difference Between the Blues and Depression?

Thanks Doc,

Concerned Husband

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Concerned Husband,

You are definitely taking the correct approach in helping your wife. Unfortunately, so many people try to figure out mental health challenges without being properly trained to do so. Mental health is a very difficult and sensitive topic. Your wife could potentially be suffering from grief and depression. Grief is felt whenever we experience some form of loss and depression is when our mood is negatively impacted by our mental distress. Your wife lost her mother and job within a short timeframe. Given this, I would argue that she might be experiencing more than blues.

The blues is best defined as a temporary and non-dysfunctional mood that involves feelings of sadness, loneliness or grief that typically does not interfere with work, sleep or recreation. Depression, on the other hand, is best defined as a lingering and dysfunctional mood that involves feelings of sadness, fatigue, worthlessness, and weight change that affect your mood, thoughts, body, and behavior and also interferes with work, sleep or recreation.

The difference between the blues and depression is the ability to function. Blues are temporary and non-dysfunctional, which means you can still function in a somewhat a normal manner. Depression lingers and negatively impacts one’s mood causing him or her to struggle with daily functioning.

In order for your wife to be diagnosed with depression, five (or more) of the following symptoms must have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation).
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
  8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Please keep in mind that the symptoms listed above must also cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning in order to be considered depression.

This is information for educational purposes only so please do not attempt to diagnosis your wife or anyone else. I highly recommend that you seek professional counseling for your wife. Diagnosing individuals with depression or any other mental illness requires appropriate clinical training. Professionals like myself are trained to identify and treat depression before it causes or contributes to significant life problems or suicidal thinking.

If you are interested in learning more about depression and suicide prevention, please attend my FREE webinar training, entitled To Live or Not to Live: Understanding and Preventing Suicide. The webinar will take place on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 9:00 pm EST. For more details, please visit or my Facebook page at @DrDwayneBuckingham.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions, and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 220 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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How to Pray, Meditate, and Exercise Your Way Into a Healthy Marriage

BY: - 15 Jun '18 | Marriage

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Marriage is amazing! Of course, all over the internet, you can find articles aplenty on how difficult it can also be. But this article ain’t about that. In fact, this is about couples killing the “ANTs” in their relationship. What are the “ANTs?” Though it’s been around awhile, it’s a phrase I recently got hip to. It stands for “automatic negative thoughts.” Whether in marriage or life in general, we all have these negative thoughts that try to creep in and jack things up in our relationships. In fact, our marriages get in trouble and become the devil’s playground when we allow the ANTs to take over. One strategy to combat this is to pray, meditate, and exercise your way into a healthy marriage. But, before I tell you how to do that, let’s identify what some of these ANTs could be.

Scenario 1: Your husband doesn’t compliment you on the eggs you made for breakfast. ANT: “He must not like my cooking.”

Scenario 2: You work a 14 hour day only to come home to your wife complaining you still haven’t fixed the dishwasher. ANT: “She doesn’t appreciate how hard I work.”

By allowing these ANTs to enter your mind, you starve your relationship of the real nourishment it needs to thrive. In order to turn things around and get rid of the ANTs, it’s important to nourish your heart, mind, and spirit. Through prayer, meditation, and exercise, you become healthy and give your marriage a chance to become healthy as well.


It’s often said that the first thing you should do when you awake is to give thanks. A prayer of thanksgiving for the spouse you have chosen is a great first step towards a healthy marriage. Thanksgiving helps you focus on the good in your partner. It also serves as a reminder of why you fell in love in the first place. Simply put, giving thanks in the morning prevents you from giving up throughout the day.

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Peace and quiet. That is the beginning and the end of the meditation process. No television. No shouting kids. No heated discussions with anyone. It’s your time to calm your mind and bring it into the alpha state. In alpha state, your mind is relaxed and you become more open and less critical. What marriage wouldn’t benefit from spouses who are more open and less critical? No special technique is necessary. You only need a discipline and determination to let your mind be free from fear, stress, and anxiety…and any ANT that tries to get in your way.


When you exercise your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are what take us to our happy place. I ask again, what marriage wouldn’t benefit from spouses who take time each day to go to their happy place? But, not only are you becoming happier, you are becoming stronger. Physically, your health is improving and you are taking pride in your appearance. This helps to boost your confidence and confidence travels. It travels across your smile. It travels in your walk. It travels in your outlook. Take the time each day to get physical and see the improvements it brings to your relationship with your spouse. By the way, lovemaking is also a great way to get exercise. I’m just saying.

A healthy marriage requires a healthy heart, mind, and spirit. By paying attention to these areas, you allow yourself to become more balanced and better prepared to handle married life as it happens. Will there still be drama? Yes. Will there still be disagreements? Of course. But, by taking these preemptive steps, you learn how to deal with the ANTs before the ANTs deal a blow to your relationship.

BMWK, are you ready to pray, meditate, and exercise your way out of the ANTs and into a healthy marriage?

About the author

Joann Fisher wrote 156 articles on this blog.

Joann Fisher has been a writer and editor for both print and online newpapers and magazines for the last 10 years. She now serves as a Writer/Editor at BMWK and lead Editor for The Joy Network.


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