Tuesday, June 18, 2024

How To Support Your Partner With Depression

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Being Depressed Is Not The Same As Being Sad Even Really Really Sad

How to Support Your Partner with Depression and Anxiety (Uncovered)

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

They May Deny The Problem

A depressed spouse may deny that they have any problem at all, Ben-David says.

âMany people with depression or mental health issues donât want to be âfixed.â They may just want to be heard. If in the process of listening to your partner, if you hear things that are too hurtful for you to handle, then turn to a professional for help,â he says. âYour spouse may not identify their behaviors as depression. If theyâre acting out with sex, drinking, drugs, or food, they may say, âI need this. It eases my stress.ââ

Encourage your spouse to get help and a diagnosis from a mental health professional. They can start with talk therapy and, if they need it, prescription medication, Barber says. Make an appointment with a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or family doctor for a diagnosis, and begin therapy.

âPsychotherapy plus medication has shown to work better for depression than just medication. Medication without talking is not going to help,â says Barber, who adds that medication may be more appropriate to treat people with severe depression.

Some couples choose to have therapy together, especially if depression has led to sexual issues in the marriage, such as an affair, Ben-David says. Your depressed partner may prefer to do solo therapy. If theyâre struggling with addiction, they need to treat that before tackling their depression, he says.

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 irritable, 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.

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Ways To Support A Partner With Depression That Are Actually Helpful

Being there for them can be invaluable.

It isn’t easy to figure out when to step in when a partner is depressed. If they’re sleeping all day, pushing you away, or shutting down, you’ll probably feel a bit helpless yourself â even though you really want to make them feel better. To say it’s a tough situation for all involved is an understatement, and yet it’s one that countless couples encounter every day.

Depression impacts about 16.2 million adults in the US, and while there are many different types â and it always manifests differently person to person â symptoms often include loss of energy, lack of interest in activities, hopelessness, guilt, and anger, which in turn means your partner will likely struggle to function on a daily basis.

It can be complicated, stressful, and scary. But you can help, in some small way, by being there for them. “Social support is important to emotional well-being,”, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. And this is particularly true for those with depression, she says. Being there for your partner, even if it’s simply as a shoulder to cry on, is invaluable.

Ways To Support A Spouse Living With Depression

How to Help When Your Partner Has Depression

Depression is a complex thing with many faces. It can look like happiness one day, followed by the deepest form of sadness the next day. It can cause confusion, frustration, and has the ability to upset everyone in its path. Now imagine what it’s like to be that person dealing with depression… it’s horrible, and I know this because I have lived with depression for over 15 years. But here’s something we don’t always talk about… how it feels to be the person in love with the person with depression. My heart feels heavy just writing about this because it cannot be easy. As hard as it is to be the one living with depression, it must feel so incredibly tough to be their spouse — bearing witness to everything that you’re going through and feeling helpless because they’ve never experienced depression first-hand.

I never felt as though I could communicate to my past partners about my depression because I honestly never felt as though they would understand. That’s a huge fear that people who live with depression face. The only reason I chose to open up to my husband is because he made me believe that it was safe to do so. That changed everything. I am now in a marriage where I can truly be me — even on my worst days, I can be me. I no longer have fears attached to my depression and I feel 100 percent supported. This has changed everything about the way I approach and manage those bad days, and I owe it all to my husband.


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Questions To Help Support And Collaborate

It can be tempting to just do things for your partner when theyre in a depressive state, because one symptom of depression is lack of motivation. But Julie Fast warns that this may be a mistake, leading instead to increasing their sense of helplessness and dependency.

Karen and Julie suggest these questions to help your partner find their own way through their symptoms, with you there by their side:

  • What helped the last time you were depressed like this?
  • What do we need to do as a team to get through this rotten downswing?
  • Whats the best way for me to help you?
  • How are you doing with your medications? Are you feeling any difference?
  • Who can we call to help us get through this tough time?
  • What do you need from me?
  • What changes can help you feel better right now?

Both experts also emphasized the use of collaborative language to help your partner feel supported. Avoid placing blame or full responsibility on your partner, but also avoid taking on all agency or responsibility for yourself.

Stay Positive And Get Active

What if your spouse refuses to go to therapy? You may feel hopeless, but try to stay positive, because depression often is treatable, Barber says. Although your spouse may need to stick with therapy and/or medication for a few months, up to 90% of people with depression do improve with treatment.

âWhatâs important is to give them affection. You may feel rejected. But itâs situational, and their behavior is just part of the depression,â he says. âBe encouraging. Invite them to do more activities together that are fun. Do something active like exercise. Depression often causes lethargy. Invite your spouse to go for a walk or to the beach if you have one nearby.â

Whether your spouse agrees to go to therapy or not, there are a few things you should not do in response to their anger or denial, Ben-David says.

âAvoid blaming or attacking them for their behaviors. Donât keep saying, âYou did this, and it made me feel bad.â Bargaining with them is also generally not helpful. Taking an all or nothing approach doesnât work,â he says. âInstead, suggest healthy activities that you can do together or with friends that you trust. Go to an outdoor concert or listen to music that you both enjoy. One behavior that I sometimes prescribe for couples is to read to each other. This has a nurturing quality and can help with bonding.â

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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.

Help Your Spouse Get A Proper Diagnosis And Treatment

How To Help Your Spouse With Depression

The illness might prevent a depressed person from recognizing they need help or seeking it out, so it’s often the non-depressed spouse who will express concern and suggest an action plan.

To broach the topic, say, “I love you but I hate watching you suffer. Depression is a common problem and you shouldn’t be ashamed of having it, so let’s find out more about this illness together,” Baer suggested.

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Consider Seeking Couples Counseling

Depression can threaten marriages and other relationships. A couples therapist can help you work through resentment, frustration, or other issues that have arisen during your partner’s illness.

Another issue that may arise is sexual intimacy. Depression can cause a loss of desire, and antidepressants can have negative sexual side effects. Your loved one’s doctor may be able to adjust medication to address this problem.

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

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Encourage Them To Stick With A Treatment Plan

They’ll probably have a hard time getting up, Johnson says, so take it upon yourself to encourage your partner to meet with their therapist.

Send them an encouraging text an hour before their appointment. Offer to sit with them during. Or check in afterward, to see how it went.

“These things can really motivate a person with depression to get the help they need,” Johnson says.

How To Take Care Of Yourself When Your Partner Has Depression

How to help your partner overcome depression

When the person you love is experiencing depression, it can also affect your mood. Thats why its important to carve out time to take care of yourself, too.

Its as the age-old idiom goes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first, before you put on someone elses.

These are some of the ways you can practice self-care:

  • If possible, eat whole, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Keep up with the hobbies you love.
  • Stay connected to your friends and family.
  • Get alone time and manage social exhaustion, especially if youre an introvert.
  • Journal or talk about your feelings with a confidante.
  • Engage in relaxing activities, like a bubble bath or massage.
  • Get plenty of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours a night.
  • Get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 5 times a week.

Try to practice loving detachment as well. Recognize that your partner is not behaving this way on purpose; this is not a reflection on you or how youre showing up in the relationship. Its not your partners fault either its the depression.

Most importantly, try being patient with yourself. Its natural to feel however you feel, be it angry, overwhelmed, confused, helpless, guilty, or any other emotion thats coming up.

If you need to, you can always reach out to a therapist for added support.

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Dear Therapist: My Boyfriends Depression Is Making Me Question Our Future Together

I want to be there for him, but his depressive episodes are difficult for me to handle.

Dear Therapist,

My boyfriend and I are in our early 20s, and we recently moved in together after being in a long-distance relationship for four years. I’ve always known that he battles depression and has mild Aspergers. Recently, his depression has gotten much worse, and because this is the first time he has gotten very depressed since weve been physically together, I have no idea what Im doing. It is like Im walking on eggshells every time we speak, and if I say the wrong thing, he just shuts down. I cant push him for information or try to get him to help me with something around the house. I can barely get a normal conversation. I feel so alone.

I love him very much, and I plan to spend the rest of my life with him, but I dont know how to live feeling like the floor could come out from under me at any time. He is trying to get help, but he refuses to go on any medications or stick with a plan to get better for very long. I am so scared that this is going to always be his lifea constant roller-coaster ride controlled by depression. I want so much more for him, and for us.

I understand that theres nothing I can do to fix his depression. I just want to be there for him, but I cant sacrifice myself to his depression either. I need my boyfriend back. Help me, please.

MaggieDestin, Fla.

Dear Maggie,

Remember That Depression Isnt Just A Mental Illness

It used to drive me mad that Rob wouldnt get out of bed. It took a while to realise that he couldnt rather than wouldnt. I was so sure he would feel better if he came out for a walk or met his friends, but depression is a physical illness, too. As Dr Cain says: Physically, depression impacts energy levels. People sometimes feel very tired and want to stay in bed all the time.

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Ask Them What They Need From You

To show further understanding and support, ask the person what they need. They may need:

  • reminders to take medication
  • company when visiting the doctor or attending therapy
  • home-cooked meals
  • encouragement to socialize or exercise
  • a hug or a hand to hold
  • to be left alone sometimes

Helpful questions to ask include:

  • What can I do to help?
  • Would it be helpful if I ?

Help Them Keep A Mood Log

How To Help Your Partner with Depression

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.”

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The Depression Coming Out Conversation

Whether you ask or deduce it after months of dating, there will be a point when your partner discloses they deal with depression. Its a crucial moment in the relationship, so be sensitive and do not judge. Thank him for trusting you with this information he has most likely not shared with many people. See it as the beginning of a discussion you can resurface occasionally.

Help Your Loved One Get A Diagnosis And Treatment

As much as he or she may resist, you need to get your loved one to see a mental health or medical professional. Don’t try to treat your spouse or significant other on your own, but do help him or her get to appointments, and attend the appointments if possible.

It’s also important to help your loved one by record-keeping, which can include making notes about appointments, symptoms, and treatments . You may want to track medications and help ensure your loved one takes them.;

You also can help report any problems, changes or concerns to the medical professional handling your partner’s care.;

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