Wednesday, September 28, 2022

How To Help Your Significant Other With Depression

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Signs And Symptoms Of Depression In Men

Men tend to be less adept at recognizing symptoms of depression than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. And while men may experience classic symptoms of depression such as despondent mood, loss of interest in work or hobbies, weight and sleep disturbances, fatigue, and concentration problems, they are more likely than women to experience stealth depression symptoms such as anger, substance abuse, and agitation.

The three most commonly overlooked signs of depression in men are:

  • Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptomssuch as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disordersthat dont respond to normal treatment.
  • Anger. This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive or controlling.
  • Reckless behavior. A man suffering from depression may exhibit escapist or risky behavior such as pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.
  • Getting Help For Male Depression

    Dont try to tough out depression on your own. It takes courage to seek helpfrom a loved one or a professional. Most men with depression respond well to self-help steps such as reaching out for social support, exercising, switching to a healthy diet, and making other lifestyle changes.

    But dont expect your mood to improve instantly. Youll likely begin to feel a little better each day. Many men recovering from depression notice improvements in sleep patterns and appetite before improvements in their mood. But these self-help steps can have a powerful effect on how you think and feel, helping you to overcome the symptoms of depression and regain your enjoyment of life.

    Make Clarity And Transparency House Rules

    Depressive episodes tend to come in waves. You may be in a low state when your partner is not, or vice versa. When you’re in the throes of depression, it can be hard to clearly see what’s going on with you, let alone tell anyone else about it. It’s also difficult to see what’s happening with your partner or how you might be affecting them.

    The only way to overcome this is to communicate out loud about everything. Guesswork never cuts it in a relationship, but especially not when depression is involved.

    “Being verbally clear with your partner about where your mental state of mind is will eliminate any assumptions,” Egel says. “Instead of them assuming what’s going on with you, being expressive with them verbally will help them understand more about why you’re acting and feeling the way you are.”

    They Arent Interested In Sex

    Few people have a consistent libido.

    Its normal to go through phases of being more or less interested in sex.

    However, a low sex drive is a typical sign of depression.

    This can cause a rift in your relationship, because their lack of interest may make you feel insecure.

    You might be left wondering whether they still find you attractive.

    Rest assured that its not personal.

    When someone is in a depressed state, they just dont find sex appealing.

    Come Up With An Action Plan

    5 signs your significant other is depressed (and how to ...

    Depression is not a flat line. You may notice that your partner has some good days and some bad days. It may be helpful to make an action plan for how to respond to particularly trying times, like how youll both rearrange the schedule or communicate with each other.

    You may even want to consider a code word. If your partner has a hard time being vulnerable, a code word can let you know that its time to take those extra measures. Not only that, but it will also remind you to be extra patient with them and yourself.

    Don’t Give Up On Them

    Depressive symptoms can make someone unrecognizable. If you start feeling hopeless, remind yourself that your partner isn’t their depression, Laura Fonseca, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle.

    “They’re still there,” she says. “Remind them that you know that.” And keep being a positive support system.

    Bring Resources To The Conversation

    Educate yourself as much as you can about depression, says Dr. Wheaton, and offer to share this information with your partner. 

    Depression looks and feels different for everyone, so one of the best things you and your partner can do is learn about the many aspects of depression and understand the signs, symptoms, and treatment options available.

    Depression can also coincide with many other health and mental health conditions, so this is worth exploring, as there may be an underlying cause that needs attention. 

    Dr. Wheaton recommends that if youre worried your partner wont understand or will be invalidating, bring reputable information to the conversation.This could include statistics about depression or medical resources that explain what depression is, what it looks like, and how it feels. 

    How you bring up the conversation and how you continue the conversation depends on the dynamic of the relationship, but giving your partner information allows them the opportunity to better understand what youre going through.  

    Keep It In Perspective

    Loving someone with depression may feel challenging at times. It may be important to remember that this is more than just the blues. Depression is not a personal choice its a medical condition.

    Depression is not about not making an effort to feel better. Your partner cannot snap out of it or get over it with enough willpower. This is just like someone with a broken arm cant mend it back together at will. If they could, they would have probably done so already.

    If your partner is having a hard time keeping up with chores, for example, they arent being lazy or trying to get away with doing less around the home. Depression can make even the simplest tasks feel exhausting, which means your partner may need to be more selective about what they take on.

    It may be helpful to liken depression to working with a bucket. Right now, your partner is carrying a smaller bucket than the one they typically use. Its not a bad bucket for holding less water; its just whats available right now. It may work better on smaller jobs, and it needs to be refilled more often.

    As you might have guessed, the bucket represents emotional capacity. A similar analogy is the Spoon Theory, popularized by Christine Miserandino. If youve ever heard someone with depression say, I dont have the spoons, this is where that comes from.

    Coping With Depression Tip 1: Reach Out And Stay Connected

    Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When youre depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.

    You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it wont mean youre a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And if you dont feel that you have anyone to turn to, its never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.

    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.

    Is There A Path Through This World Of Shadows

    It is not easy to accompany a partner that is going through a depression. Many relatives and partners receive confusing and mixed messages from the affected person: Help me but leave me alone! In fact, wanting to escape from the situation and wanting to help at the same time is common. All this is perfectly normal. The one you love is changing and that makes you afraid. But how can you overcome these challenges and draw a map of this world?

    Accept The behavior of your partner may seem rejecting and selfish. It is necessary to have a thick skin. It is tricky to accept the depression for what it is, an illness, while continuing to believe in the relationship. Dont misunderstand depression as a weakness of character, a matter of education or just the mood acknowledge it as a complex illness. Gaining this insight is not easy. If you love someone, you have to face your own resistance to accept his or her condition. Therefore, it is helpful to get thoroughly informed about the nature of a depression. You should also let your partner know that its ok for them to be the way they currently are.

    Avoid giving advice thats message is I know whats best for you When confronted with a problem our brain tends to go for quick solutions. But if we tell a person going through depression how to overcome the illness, we are in danger of playing it down. Even though it might not be intentional, this can promote feeling guilty about shortcomings in your partner.

    Ask Them How They’d Like To Be Helped

    “Too often we assume what another person needs based on how we would like support,”Dr. Jessica, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle.

    If you like to be cuddled, for example, you might think your partner likes to be cuddled, too.

    But since everyone’s different, it’s important to figure out what they actually prefer, she says. Talk about it, and honor what they need.

    They Look For More Distractions And Can Seem Disinterested Or Mentally Aloof

    How to Help Your Significant Other Whos Suffering from ...

    Men with depression tend to seek more distractions than women, which can be a problem if those distractions include alcohol and drugs. It also means more time might go by before he feels comfortable having the depression coming out conversation.

    You can help him by encouraging positive distractions and guiding him away from the negative ones. You can even be one of those positive distractions on occasion.

    Men also use distractions to remove themselves from the pain of depression. This can make them seem disinterested or oblivious.

    CIA Medical Senior Editor Sarah Lisovich deals with depression and has dated a man with the illness. She said their outings often felt emotionally distant because both of them were trying to distract themselves from depression, from talking about it and discussing intense feelings.

    His mind was far away, she said, and hers was not much closer at times.

    Because the depression itself can be a distraction, there are other times when men with depressive symptoms can seem disinterested in those they are dating.

    When depressed, I tend to focus more on myself and why Im this way than I focus on others, said author G. H. Francis, who deals with symptoms of depression as a result of his schizoaffective disorder.

    Francis warned people who date men with depression to not mistake this lack of attention as a sign the man doesnt care.

    Avoid The Vicious Circle

    If your depressed spouse withdraws from you or has angry outbursts all the time, itâs easy to feel hurt and alienated, and react with similar behaviors, says Jacques Barber, PhD, Dean, Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY.

    âThis can create a vicious circle and make the spouse with even more depressed, alienated, angry, and retreating into themselves,â he says. âYou have to realize that dealing with depression is very difficult, and your partner isnât doing something malicious. Itâs the depression. If someoneâs angry with you all the time, you want to be angry back! But remember: Depression isnât contagious. This wonât last forever and can be treated. Itâs easy to blame yourself. But most couples do survive this.â

    Should you schedule an intervention with other friends and family to approach your depressed spouse about their issues? Be careful before you take this step, Ben-David says.

    âItâs important not to be accusatory. Itâs more important to observe and let them know what youâve noticed. Say, âIâve seen you looking more sullen and unhappy.â Talk about the changes youâve observed,â he says. Itâs OK to share your feelings too, and let your spouse know that youâre hurt by specific behavior changes. âTell them, âWeâre not having anymore. Youâre not spending time with me.ââ

    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

    Tip 4: Eat A Healthy Depression

    What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, , trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones .

    Dont skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.

    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. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible.

    Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.

    Boost your mood with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.

    They Show Little Interest In Your Joint Future

    Depressed people typically unmotivated and find it hard to see the point in planning for a future that in their opinion wont bring them any joy.

    Whereas your significant other may previously have spent hours talking about the things you will do together, it might be a struggle to get them to commit to any plans when they are depressed.

    Exercise Is Something You Can Do Right Now To Boost Your Mood

    Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. Starting to exercise can be difficult when youre depressed and feeling exhausted. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it. will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more.

    Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercisesuch as , weight training, swimming, or martial artswhere you move both your arms and legs.

    Add a mindfulness element, especially if your depression is rooted in unresolved trauma or fed by obsessive, negative thoughts. Focus on how your body feels as you movesuch as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing.

    Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a running club, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a soccer or volleyball league.

    Take a dog for a walk. If dont own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. Youll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.

    Ways To Help Your Partner Struggling With Depression

    Guest Feature Written By Paul James

    Mental illness is a hard conversation to have with those around us, even when its with our significant other. People tend to hold tightly onto the most fragile aspects of their lives. I have learned this from being in a relationship with my girlfriend who struggles with depression.

    When Someone You Love Has Depression

    Depression builds walls around people and between people. When someone you love has been dragged inside those walls, there can be a distance between you both that feels relentless. You miss them, but theyre right there beside you, except that theyre kind of not. Not in the way you both want to be anyway.

    The symptoms of depression exist on a spectrum. All of them are normal human experiences, but in depression theyre intensified. Not everyone who has depression will have a formal diagnosis, so knowing what to watch out for can help to make sense of the changes you might notice.

    Depression looks like a withdrawal. It feels that way too. Its a withdrawal from everything that is enriching and life-giving. Depression sucks the life out of life. Thats how it feels. When depression bites, everything becomes hard. Life starts to hurt. Those who are bitten stop looking forward to things. They stop engaging and they stop enjoying things, even the things they used to love. They can feel hard to reach, and sometimes they can be angry or appear as though they dont care. That isnt because they want to withdraw from you or push you away, they dont, although it can feel that way. 

    Here are some ways to fight for them, beside them and for the times the fight has to be theirs, behind them:

    Be Alert To Signs That Treatment Is Not Working

    How to Help Your Partner Cope with Depression

    On the other hand, the absence of any such signs most likely means that ones depression is not improving and may be getting worse, Halaris notes, adding that a major concern in the absence of improvement is whether your loved one is having suicidal thoughts.

    This is where you need to very gently raise the question whether they are having even fleeting thoughts of their life not being worth living, Halaris says.

    According to Mayo Clinic, signs your loved one may be considering suicide include:

    • Making statements such as I wish I were dead or I wish I hadnt been born
    • Purchasing a gun or hoarding pills
    • Fixating on violence, death, or dying
    • Withdrawing from social contact with others
    • Feeling hopeless or trapped in their current situation
    • Telling people, goodbye, as if theyre going to disappear
    • Getting their affairs in order or giving away their belongings with no other plausible explanation for doing so

    If your loved one shows signs of considering or planning to take their own life, Halaris and Riba recommend taking steps to reduce their risk of attempting or completing suicide, such as:

    RELATED: How to Cope With Anxiety and Depression

    Provide Support During Recovery

    While recovery from depression is possible, it can be challenging at times. To support a partner during the recovery process:

    • help them keep track of their appointments and medications
    • do some physical activity together most days
    • plan and prepare healthful meals together
    • try to reduce stressors in the home
    • make goals small and achievable
    • encourage them to socialize with others
    • plan fun activities together
    • point out the persons progress on their journey to recovery
    • avoid forcing treatment on the person

    Let them know that they are not alone by saying things such as:

    • I am here for you.
    • We will deal with this together.

    It may also be helpful to attend a support group for family members of those with a mental health condition. Couples may also benefit from couples therapy or family-based counseling.

    Dealing With The Winter Blues

    For some people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder . SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. No matter how hopeless you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.

    Create A Purpose Not An Expectation

    When you do not live with a mental illness, it is difficult to comprehend how overwhelming depression can be. A task as small as taking a walk down the street can feel arduous and unnecessary.

    Develop Small Goals

    These can be little steps such as getting out of bed earlier. Or they can be more significant steps such as applying for a job. If youre looking into a more significant step, its best to create multiple small goals. In the example of the job, achievement can be updating a resume or researching job ads.

    Its important to note that these should be expectations. Depression has a mind of its own. Each small goal you make isnt a given. What matters is showing your support by sticking by their side regardless of whether they make goals or not. And if they do, dont be afraid to celebrate their accomplishments.

    Help Them Keep A Mood Log

    If they’re open to the idea, help your partner assess how they feel â whether it’s in an app or an actual journal meant to track their ups and downs.

    “Mood logs are important in tracking when moods are elevated or normal and keeping track of what was going on during that time to help treat symptoms before it gets too severe,”Dr. Patrice N. Douglas, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. “In keeping a mood log, you will be able to identify if they are going through an episode so you can better support them.”

    Support Their Medical Decisions

    Photo by Hush Naidoo via Unsplash.

    Again, the best gift you can give them is your support. They may decide they want medication, therapy or a variety of other options to manage their anxiety and your support will make their feel confident in their choice to seek out medical help. If they dont want to treat their disorder, it is not your place to tell them they are wrong.

    Tip 1: Seek Social Support

    Work commitments can often make it difficult for men to find time to maintain friendships, but the first step to tackling male depression is to find people you can really connect with, face-to-face. That doesnt mean simply trading jokes with a coworker or chatting about sports with the guy sitting next to you in a bar. It means finding someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with, someone wholl listen to you without judging you, or telling you how you should think or feel.

    You may think that discussing your feelings isnt very macho, but whether youre aware of it or not, youre already communicating your feelings to those around you; youre just not using words. If youre short-tempered, drinking more than usual, or punching holes in the wall, those closest to you will know somethings wrong. Choosing to talk about what youre going through, instead, can actually help you feel better.

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