The Importance Of Balance
In any kind of relationship, it is important for a continuous evaluation and reassessment of your needs, your partners needs, and the needs that are demanded by the dynamics of the relationship. This is because such an evaluation brings about a healthy and manageable balance between you and your partner and you both feel fulfilled.
If and when your partner is suffering from depression or going through a tough phase, it will be necessary to compromise on this balance, a little. However, make sure you do not forget yourself or the course of the relationship while supporting your partner in need.
Communicate honestly about the kind of emotional investment your partner is seeking and place healthy boundaries wherever required.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Depressed Girlfriends Actual Capabilities Right Now
There is a huge difference between meanness, abuse and shitty behavior and things depressed people have a hard time doing.
It might seem like healthy boundaries should extend to normal relationship behavior.
This is because, when everyone is healthy, having your loved one withdraw their affection feels like a very personal rejection of you. Since nothing unusual is going on with them, withdrawal of affection is often a sign of a problem with the relationship.
However, when your depressed girlfriend pulls away from you, it can be the illness OR it could be you.
The difference can be a really fine line, so I want to talk about that.
If youre disappointed that your depressed girlfriend isnt emotionally available as often, isnt affectionate, doesnt want sex, has withdrawn and has a hard time making or keeping plans, sure, I can understand wanting to sit her down and ask about this.
Now, like I mentioned since you have most likely crossed over into cant rather than wont territory trying negotiate with her for more or better time, sex, love or affection will go very badly since she doesnt have these things to give you.
Just as continually trying to train a cat to bark will leave you scratched up and frustrated, so will trying to get more genuine caring and affection from a depressed person.
They are already trying as hard as they can and are well aware theyre coming up short.
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Don’t Try To Fix Each Other
Do not try to tell your partner what to do to fix their depression. Even if you’re right, it’ll likely backfire. “Most people don’t really appreciate being told what to do,” Egel says. “Then they get defensive and dig their heels in, and then there’s a conflict, a power struggle. Even if they agree with their partner.”
Just remember, your loved one is not a project to be fixed.
“They’re not broken,” Brateman says. “They’re just depressed.”
The same goes for you. Both of you are worthy of love and amazing, healthy partnershipsdepression and all.
Encourage Her To Access Professional Help
As depression is a common mental health condition, lots of help and support are available. However, themajority of people living with depression do not access treatment. Loss of motivation or feelings of shame about their condition can act as barriers to seeking help, as can a lack of information about services available.
One of the most helpful things you can do for your girlfriend is to encourage her to access professional support. You could talk her through the options available, help her find treatment services, or accompany her to appointments. Ultimately, the decision to seek help has to come from your girlfriend. However, having open conversations about the topic can make the process easier.
As well as professional services, you could also explore self-organized support groups where your girlfriend can speak with others who have a similar experience of depression. Peer support groups can offer great advice and help her realize she is not alone in her struggles.
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Keep Your Jealousy In Check
Often, depressed people wear a mask around other people because its simply easier than being loud and proud about the reality of their life right now.
Clinical depression carries a real stigma and its rarely understood by people who havent experienced it.
Faking it and acting happy is much less humiliating than admitting to the average acquaintance that you cried today because you ran out of dry shampoo and cant fathom paying the energy cost of taking a real shower right now.
Being Depressed Is Not The Same As Being Sad Even Really Really Sad
Once-depressed girlfriend here. If she is truly, clinically depressed, understand that you can be supportive but you cannot help her not be depressed. Being depressed is not the same as being sad, even really, really sad. You can probably cheer her up a bit, distract her a bit once in a while, you might even help her have a really good day, but you cannot cure this situation because its not a matter of taking someone sad and making them happy.
Some depressions resolve by themselves in time, some cannot without professional help. I think even ones of the former category are helped with professional interventioncounseling, psychodynamic therapy, medicationusually a combination of these.
If you want to help her, help her find good, professional help. When you are depressed, finding a good doctor or a therapist can feel like climbing the Himalayas, there are so many steps and so many dead ends along the way. Help her with all that, I would say thats the best thing you can do. And look after yourself tooyou cant help her if you are mired in her misery as well.zazzlekdazzle
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Helping Yourself To Help Her
Tend To Your Own Well Being First
Depression in a relationship can be contagious.
One way to prevent yourself from getting depressed right there along with your depressed girlfriend is to keep up on the other parts of your life that dont involve her.
Just like its important to examine your codependent tendencies, its also good to be aware of caregiver fatigue and make sure you make your own life a priority and do things for yourself.
Dealing with depression is a marathon, not a sprint.
You wont get any extra cosmic brownie points for skipping your sisters wedding in favor of another Saturday cartoon and cereal marathon with your depressed girlfriend.
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Encourage Her To Get Treatment
Treatment is vital to recovery, so if your partner hasnt already, encourage her to seek help from a doctor or medical professional. Let her know that its nothing to be ashamed of or a sign of weakness – its actually a sign of improvement and one of the first steps to recovery.
People battling depression often feel guilty about the way theyre feeling, so reassure your girlfriend that you dont feel anything different about her and that youll continue to support her through treatment.
If your girlfriend is already receiving help, support her by helping to collect her medication, monitoring her symptoms, and taking her to therapy or support groups.
Trust Your Instinct You Probably Know What Your Friend Really Needs
Being a good friend doesnt require an instruction manual nor do you need to be a professional to know that they might need additional support. Dont worry about finding the perfect words to say there is no right or wrong, just be there and let them know they have your support.Here are some tips to help make it easier to have a conversation about mental health.
Keep it casual. Relax: think of it as a chill chat, not a therapy session.
Listen up. Let them take the lead.
Avoid offering advice or trying to fix their problems.
Let them know its OK to feel the way they do.
Make yourself available. Be the friend they can rely on.
Ask open-ended questions. Help them to talk, not just say yes or no.
Let them open up at their own speed.
Dont demand answers or force them to say anything theyre not ready to.
Encourage them to talk to an expert.
Tell them you wont ever judge them.
Let them know that this wont change how you feel about them.
Ask if they have seen a doctor.
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Helping Her Get Treatment
Create A Morning Routine
Morning routines are a great way to make sure youre taking care of yourself before the day gets ahead of you. This is something Britt Reints, authour of An Amateurs Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, has been doing to take control of her situation.
TIP: Wake up a little bit earlier than usual and do something that calms or relaxes you. This is a great way to get started while setting the tone for the rest of the day.
You can take this a step further like Malan Darras who set up a daily routine. Check out his article that shows just how crazy his routine was and how he turned it all around. His current routine is something to aspire to!
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How Involved Should I Get What If I Start To Feel Overwhelmed
Helping a friend whos going through something difficult, especially when it involves serious or intense feelings, can be exhausting. Its important to know your own limits. If you fall apart, you wont be able to help your friend.
- Take care of yourself. Indulging in self-care doesnt mean youre a bad friend. If you feel like you need to take a step back, communicate that to your friend. Put yourself first and make sure you are okay in order to continue to help and support your friend.
- Keep your day-to-day consistent. Dont let your friends mental health dramatically impact or change your routine or the way you interact with your friend. If you start acting differently around them, it could discourage them from seeking help and it will likely wear on you in ways that negatively affect your friendship.
- Be honest about being in over your head. Recognize when you went too far and set a boundary.
Loving Someone With Depression: Date Night Ideas
People with depression tend to isolate themselves from their support system. Even their spouses may find themselves on the wrong side of a closed bedroom door. But if your depressed partner feels capable of spending time together, you can suggest a few activities that can help nurture mental health, and reassure both of you that your relationship can survive psychological setbacks.
- Take a drive in nature. A depressed person may not feel energized to venture out on a long walk, but you could both benefit from seeing the horizon. If you have a car, get in it and go. Cruise around the nearest lake or forest. Human mindsevolved on the savannahtend to respond positively to the great outdoors, with lower stress levels and improved cognitive functioning.
- Do something new together. Though novelty may have a detrimental effect on an anxious person, psychological studies show that new experiences can stimulate cognition, create positive memories, and activate dopamine neurons. Just keep it low-key and in your partners comfort zone. No sky-diving.
- Do something physical. Propose an activity that will get your significant other out of their head and into their body. You could dance around the house or take a swimanything that gets them moving.
- Cook a meal at home. Cooking and baking are small, creative projects that can cultivate positivity.
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How To Help A Boyfriend With Depression
If you want to help a boyfriend with depression, its important to know that men and boys often find it difficult to talk about their emotions for fear of appearing vulnerable or “unmanly.” Thankfully, the culture surrounding this stigma is slowly changing, but people of the male gender still face pressures that are difficult for girls and women to understand. As a result, you may find it hard to get your boyfriend to open up about his depression, which can feel frustrating if you know he needs help. On the other hand, you may be the only person your boyfriend feels he can open up to if he struggles to talk to his friends or family about his illness. Or maybe he doesn’t want help for the depression. This can put an enormous amount of pressure on any relationship particularly when you’re young.
Its also important to know that the weight of your boyfriends depression is too much for you to carry by yourself. The best thing you can do to help him and protect your relationship is to encourage him to develop a support system. This might mean involving his parents in his mental health struggles or reaching out to a counselor at his school or workplace. It can be frustrating to deal with his depression, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Other things you can do to help a boyfriend with depression include:
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Abandon The Concept Of Helping With Your Girlfriends Depression
Youll automatically feel safer to her because instead of spewing out positivity or ideas, youll just be there.
Being there might be how to help your depressed girlfriend and all she really wants or needs from you right now.
That ability to just be there and empathize can be the difference between a depressed person cutting off their entire support system and at least keeping someone around who actually gets it or at least doesnt make the feeling of hopelessness worse.
Dont underestimate how precious it might be for her if you would just stay in your own lane and be present with her.
Depression is lonely enough on its own without a troop of well-wishers who continually suggest that if you would just do something different, you would feel better.
Clinical depression is just not that simple.
When Should You Give Up On A Relationship
If you notice the following signs showing up in your relationship, then it might be time to reevaluate your relationship or end it respectfully.
Your needs are being ignored or neglected completelyYour partner constantly projects their insecurities and fears on youYou find it extremely difficult and debilitating to ask for your partners time and attention in times of needYou begin to view the relationship as a mere obligationYou are no longer able to connect with your partner physically, mentally, or both.Your partner breaks your trust in one or the other ways.
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