How To Help A Partner With Depression
If you suspect your partner is dealing with depression,Dr. Borland recommends these five action items:
1. Encourage your partner to seek professional help
Depression is treatable. So rather than ignoring theproblem or trying to fix it yourselves, enlist the help of a primary caredoctor or psychiatrist.
Depression can be hard to talk about. It helps to work onassertive communication. Share your feelings and concerns without playing theblame game. Start sentences with I statements that focus on your feelings,such as, I noticed, or, Im worried. Talk openly about symptoms youve seenand how you want to help.
2. Work as a team
Marriage is a team sport both in good times and bad. Wedont want partners to branch away from one another, says Dr. Borland. To avoidthis, its important to show unconditional support. Express things like, Imin this with you. Youre not going to scare me. Im not going to allow you topush me away.
If talk therapy is part of your partners treatment, join their first few sessions or more. Your partner may also want you to participate in meetings about medications.
Being depressed can be scary, Dr. Borland relates. Your spouse will benefit from all the support you can offer.
3. Practice self-care
4. Dont take it personally
Depression isnt anyones fault. Give your partner a senseof security and support even when theyre acting out. This takes patience andcommitment but its worth the effort.
5. Educate yourself
When My So Has A Rough Day Sometimes It Draws Me From My Cocoon To Try To Make Him Feel Better
Mature individuals understand that nondepressed folks have bad days sometimes. Bad days are part of being a person.
Ive been dealing with depression. When my S.O. has a rough day, sometimes it draws me from my cocoon to try to make him feel better. Its pretty easy for me to tell if hes had a rough day, so hiding it would just make the atmosphere uncomfortable and make me feel like he is somehow coddling me. I love him so much, I hate seeing him down, so even if I havent managed to bathe or change my clothes cause I just dont wanna, cant, I will still try to do SOMETHING to make him feel better, and it just might make me feel better along the way.
Silly little things matter so, so much.
I think a good way to let your S.O. know youre having a bad day but you are still there for her is something like this: Hey, sweetie/punkin/boo, Ive had a rough day. Knowing youre my girl/coming home to you makes me feel better though. Lets go to bed early. Haha. I sleep more when Im depressed, and my S.O. likes to sleep a lot anyhow.
Have Your Own Resources
Like most spouses, my husband is my most valued confidant. When one of us is struggling with depression, though, the reality is those heavy emotions can weigh down the other person. In those instances, licensed marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar said it helps to have separate support systems. That autonomy, she explained, âServes as a âharm reductionâ plan, due to the high potential of one spouse’s depression activating the other spouse’s depression.â She suggested thinking of three people you can turn to when depressed and then giving that list to your partner so he or she can facilitate contact if necessary.
How To Help When Your Spouse Is Depressed
Tim and Sandra sit close together on their porch swing, holding hands. Its hard to believe that less than a year ago, theyd discussed selling their house, splitting their possessions and sharing custody of their three children. The couple explains that a common but treatable illness nearly destroyed their strong 12-year marriage.
I remember the day it started, Tim says. I walked into the kitchen one morning and Sandy was just sitting on the floor. She was still in her bathrobe, and her eyes were swollen from crying.
When Tim asked what was wrong, Sandra told him she honestly didnt know. Their lives were good. They werent struggling financially or having problems with the kids. She knew there was no reason to cry, yet the tears returned every morning from then on. Her concentration began to slip as well, leading to mistakes that almost cost her a job she loved. Finally, Tim insisted she see a doctor.
I sure didnt like the diagnosis, Sandra explains, shaking her head. I expected him to give me vitamins or tell me not to work so hard. I never anticipated what he would actually suggest.
Over the next few months, Sandra tried to bury her secret but her sorrow was too pervasive to hide. Their frightened children began asking what was wrong with Mom.
And the more angry he got, the more hed withdraw from me, Sandra adds. Then Id feel guilty and withdraw even more. We just kept drifting further apart.
Accept That There Will Be Bad Days
People with depression have good days and bad days. To deal with the bad days:
- expect that they will happen
- understand that this is a normal part of depression
- do not withdraw love or support during these times
- take some time out and do something enjoyable, either alone or with others
- remember that not every day will be like this there will be good days too
Put Your Thoughts On The Witness Stand
Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:
- Whats the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?
- What would I tell a friend who had this thought?
- Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?
- How might I look at this situation if I didnt have depression?
As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, youll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression.
Include Them Even If They Reject Attention
“Depression is a very isolating condition and it can be hard for the loved one’s of a person with depression to keep reaching out when their invitations are constantly declined,”Megan E. Johnson, PhD, a psychological assistant, tells Bustle. “But it is crucial that the individual with depression always knows wanted and included.”
And that means sending a text with an invitation to meet up, even if you’re positive they’ll say no. “People with depression can be hypersensitive to the effect that this illness has on their loved ones,” Johnson says. “Hearing that want them around can be so refreshing â even if they aren’t able to participate all the time.”
Tip 4: Eat A Healthy Diet To Improve How You Feel
What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel.
Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these feel-good foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.
Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, , trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones.
Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost.The best sources are fatty fish , seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.
Try foods rich in mood-enhancing nutrients, such as bananas and spinach .
Avoid deficiencies in B vitamins which can trigger depression. Eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.
The Influence Of Lifestyle On Depression
Heres where you can make a significant difference. As human beings, we feel at our best when our essential emotional needs are met in balance. Our most important emotional needs are:
- a sense of volition and control a feeling that we have an impact on our family, our immediate or extended environment and our well-being
- a sense of belonging being part of a community and that, of course, includes the two of you
- a need for friendship, fun and laughter
- a need for a sense of security thats a tough one if, for example, you the two of you were already on the brink of divorce
- meaning at purpose a feeling that your life is worthwhile, that your existence and contribution matter.
Find out which emotional needs are not met. Decide what you might want to do about that as a couple or as individuals. Yes, your needs are also important!
Heres a free worksheet to help your depressed spouse
How To Deal With A Depressed Spouse
Im so chuffed youve landed here because you want to know how to help your partner or spouse with depression.
I can think of two reasons:
If youre already sure they are depressed, you might be tempted to skip the next section. However, Id like you to pay attention to it anyhow because it may help you to pinpoint what has caused your partners depression.
Be Prepared To Offer Practical And Emotional Support
Heres the short version of how you can help your depressed spouse:
Offer To Help With Tasks
If you live together, sit down as a couple and figure out how you can work together to get both of your needs met. If something they usually take care of feels like too much right now, you may want to ask them what would feel more intuitive at this time.
For example, maybe they can swap out laundry for paying bills online for the month. Or, instead of doing the dishes, they can water the plants. If you are up for it, you may even offer to take on a little more than usual for a few days.
If its accessible for you as a couple, you could find out what things you can automate. For example, grocery delivery services may waive a delivery fee if you place an order large enough for a weeks worth of food. Going to the grocery store will be one less thing for both of you to do.
For example, you may explore the possibility of cooking a few dishes for them so they have some lunches ready for the week.
Maintain Your Duties When Depressed
Before reaching a crisis point, Wade recommends reaching an agreement about goalsâdown to the specifics of when to get out of bed or how much television to watch. Then put that written daily routine someplace readily visible so you can both remain accountable. Sure, keeping the house clean is nice, but the main goal of this is for the note to serve as a âwritten reminder to keep living.â
Trying To Fix Their Partner
Depression is an illness, and something that your partner will be dealing with for the rest of their life. Although there are numerous treatment options for depression including antidepressants, cognitive therapy, and , there is no cure for it, and maintaining control over it requires a great deal of determination and patience. Attempting to fix your partners depression will only give them the impression that you feel like something is wrong with them, and can increase the feelings of hopelessness and despair that they are feeling. Instead, address it with compassion, understanding, and support to help them see the positive that exists in their life.
What To Do When Your Spouse Refuses To Get Help
Many a depressed person doesnt want help or is scared that counselling might make matters worse!
So, heres how you can motivate and encourage your spouse to access professional help:
- Find free help-forums, but be sure first to read my article on 6 useful sources of depression help online.
- Ensure theres someone to mind your children, if necessary.
- Above all, reassure them getting professional help for depression is a sign of strength. After all, youd be looking for an expert with all sorts of practical or physical problems, so why not for emotional/mental issues!
If and when your spouse or partner agrees to access help, be sure to happily go along with whatever type of treatment theyve chosen regardless of your views!
Get Educated On Their Symptoms
Depression doesn’t look the same for everyone. Some people, for example, appear “normal” but transform into an entirely different person during temporary depressive episodes; others may feel persistent pangs of hopelessness for days, or weeks, at a time.
No matter the severity or characteristics of your partner’s depression, there may be moments when you feel slighted, rejected, or straight up offended by their actions. Gaining knowledge about what they’re going through can help you to understand where they’re coming from.
For example, one of the common symptoms of depression is loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Those who experience depression often find that the things that typically bring them joy seem dull and uninteresting.
Remembering that it’s not you, it’s the condition, can be a big relief in times when you might otherwise be totally confused.
Learn more about depression .
Tips For Coping With Depression In A Relationship
If you are in a relationship with someone who has depression, you are likely struggling with a mix of emotions and hosts of questions.
What’s it really like to feel depressed? What can you do to help them through hard times? How will their symptoms and treatment impact your relationship? While every person’s experience with depression is unique, here are a few things you can do to help your loved one and yourself.
When To Seek Professional Help
In some cases, symptoms of depression may become more severe or intense. It may be a good idea to seek the help of a healthcare professional in these instances.
Only a mental healthcare professional may be able to determine the severity of a symptom and the necessary intervention.
Some of the signs you may be able to recognize include:
- rapid changes in mood
- increased or unusual alcohol or drug use
- internet searches on self-harm or suicide
- talking about thoughts or plans for suicide
- interactions feeling final
Know The Warning Signs Of Suicide
The risk of suicide is always elevated during major depressive disorder. Its important to know the red flags and get immediate medical assistance:
- Talking about suicide
- Getting a means to attempt suicide, such as purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills
- Extreme mood swings very high one day and deeply discouraged the next
- Social withdrawal
- Preoccupied with thoughts of death
- Noticeable changes in normal daily routines
- Feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness
- Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, including drug or alcohol abuse or reckless driving
- Giving away belongings
Tip 3: Exercise For Greater Mental And Physical Health
When youre depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out. But exercise is a powerful depression fighterand one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once youre well.
To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesnt have to be all at once-and its okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
Saying Nothing At All Can Be A Gift
Sometimes silence really is golden and one of the best things you can do is just showing up and being present. What might feel like a small, meaningless gesture to you most likely feels like an intimate, caring gesture to your loved one in need.
Be Alert For Relapses
About 85 percent of people who suffer a bout of major depression will have a relapse within a decadeand half will have a recurrence within a year, according to a study published in International Journal of Neuropharmacology. The researchers recommended a maintenance dose of antidepressants and/or therapy to prevent a relapse. Both spouses should also stay alert for signs that the illness is returning, Walfish adds.
Caring for a depressed spouse can be lonely, overwhelming, and emotionally draining, she says. You may blame yourself, feel helpless, grow pessimistic, lose your sense of humor, and even consider leaving. Its easy for the non-depressed spouse to become angry and frustrated with an , lethargic mate whos pessimistic and critical, who cant unload the dishwasher, or who cant get the kids ready for bed anymorelet alone make love, ask how youre doing, or acknowledge that youve been holding things together for weeks, months, or years.
This starts a cycle that burns you out and doesnt help your partner at all, Scott-Lowe notes. I did this with DennisI would become extremely angry with him. Then I would feel really guilty and try to make up for it by taking on more and more around the house. Then I would get angry all over again. This wasnt helping Dennis, of course, and it was wearing me out emotionally and physically.
These steps can help the non-depressed spouse stay welland protect your marriage and your family while helping a depressed partner.
Negative Unrealistic Ways Of Thinking That Fuel Male Depression
All-or-nothing thinking. Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground
Overgeneralization. Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever
The mental filter. Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.
Diminishing the positive. Coming up with reasons why positive events dont count
Jumping to conclusions. Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader or a fortune teller
Emotional reasoning. Believing that the way you feel reflects reality
Shoulds and should-nots.Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldnt do, and beating yourself up if you dont live up to your rules.
Labeling. Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings
Dont Take Anything Personally
It is courageous for you to stand by your partner all through their toughest times and there will be instances where you feel that your actions are of no use. Your partner is still very angry, engaged in overthinking, has lost interest in pleasure, and tried to withdraw them but you dont need to take anything personally. Your Partner is just showing the symptoms of depression which can be cured with your love amalgamated with therapy.
If They’re Open To It Talk About How Their Depression Makes You Feel
Ignoring your partner’s depression altogether, or pretending that it doesn’t affect you, can isolate your loved one and actually pull you two apart.
Instead, try sharing how it makes you feel. Use non-judgmental statements like:
- “You matter to me, and it’s hard to see you go through this. How can I help you find treatment, or be there to support you?”
However, your partner may not be in a place where they can be receptive to you sharing your feelings. In those cases , consider connecting with a therapist. Look for someone who can help you navigate the stressors of caregiving, or general relationship issues.
Remember To Help Yourself As Well
Caring for a partner with depression can be emotionally draining. Its important to practice self-care and increase your own support during this time. It is extremely important for partners of those with a depression to take care of themselves. These tips will help you cope:
- Dont give up your own life and interests. Engage in your outside interests and hobbies for a break from the stresses of your daily life.
- Maintain a support system. Having friends and family to confide in ways your partner cannot is important for your overall emotion well being.
- Seek professional help for yourself, if needed. The recovery process can be stressful for partners of those struggling with mental health illnesses. Your well-being is just as important as your partners. If you need someone to talk to, or if you think you may be suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression, contact your doctor or consider visiting a mental health professional or joining a community group.
Dont Be A Cheerleader
It might be tempting to jump in and try to fix the problem with positivity, but this can make people suffering with depression feel even more alone.
Trying to cheer your partner up with comments like look on the bright side, it could be worse, or you dont have anything to be depressed about can invalidate their feelings and trivialise their condition, making them feel worse.
Again, depression is not a choice, and your partner cannot make the decision to snap out of it. If you dont know what to say, try simply listening with empathy, holding their hand, and telling them youre there to support them.
Dating Someone With Depression: 10 Tips For A Healthy Relationship
Depression is a complicated mental health disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. Its a serious, but treatable condition that affects millions of people around the world.
Dating someone with depression can be overwhelming. It can leave you feeling bewildered and confused. You may be at a loss of how to help your partner while taking care of your own mental health.
There are several skills youll need to learn if youre dating a depressed person. Practical tips can help you foster a closer relationship with your partner.
Seven Ways To Cope With A Depressed Partner
Prevention is better than cure. Be aware of the things that trigger depression and self-destructive behaviours, such as working too hard, placing unrealistic expectations on themselves, being overly self-critical. Learn the warning signs: changes in mood, drinking more, being snappy, poor sleep patterns, not looking after their appearance etc youre looking for sustained changes, everyone can have an off day. Get in early and challenge the person about their behaviour. Be firm but not confrontational argument is counter-productive. Try to help your partner admit theres a problem, only then can recovery begin. The PHQ9 questionnaire is a good first tool to see if someone might be depressed and help you get appropriate treatment.
Be considerate. Do some of the little things that show your partner you care for them and nurture them. Small treats can go a long way. Make time to be together and indulge them. Recognise that your partner is unwell and may not be able to do many of the things they would normally achieve without effort. Be physically and emotionally supportive but dont collude. Set boundaries for your own mental health. Try to encourage them to set small goals that are achievable, not attempt the impossible.
Dont let them stop working long term: one of the most important things is structure, and working is a good structure. If they are struggling, a few days off work can be beneficial, but long term its rarely a good idea unless recommended by a doctor.
How To Help Your Partner Overcome Depression
Deal with a partners depression. Being in a relationship with a partner suffering from depression can be highly challenging as it can make both partners feel distant, isolated and neglected. Feelings like anger, hopelessness, sadness run high in the relationship as either one or both partners close down emotionally and mentally. However, it doesnt mean that your relationship is about to end.
If your partner is suffering with depression and it is impacting you negatively, then there are certain ways you can help your partner and make your relationship better.
Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Knowing how to deal with your spouses may just save your marriage.
Theres no question that depression is a beast both for the person suffering from it, and for spouses and partners. Depression rocks even the healthiest of . Its like a sieve that filters the information a person processes.
The negatives infiltrate the persons mind while they weed out the positives. Depressed people view themselves, their relationships, and the world through a lens that is bleak, discouraging and hopeless.