So, your partner has just told you they have depression. Whether you are in a long-term relationship or have recently gotten into a new one, that news will not be easy for you to hear.
If you need advice on how to handle your partner’s symptoms, continue reading to learn how to date somebody with depression.
It is difficult as the partner of somebody with depression to know exactly how to help, as there are often so many emotions and stresses that arise while your partner is dealing with their disorder.
You will want to be there for them to help with their needs, but it is important to know how to go about it in a way that will actually help them instead of making them feel bad about themselves.
What Exactly is Depression?
Depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder, is a mental disorder that can have mild to severe impacts on those who suffer from it.
There are multiple factors that may cause somebody to develop depression.
The American Psychiatric Association states that factors may include:
- An imbalance of hormones and chemicals in the brain
- Having a personality type that is more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed or stressed
- Coming from a family known for having depression through the generations
- Being exposed to violence, neglect, or abuse in their environment
The American Psychiatric Association mentions that typical symptoms of depression can include:
- Consistent sad or low moods
- Favorite activities no longer being of interest to the person
- Significant weight gain or weight loss due to changes in appetite
- Oversleeping or under-sleeping
- Never having any energy or feeling fatigued all the time
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Decisions have become difficult to make, with trouble concentrating and thinking
Everybody that suffers from depression is going to show their symptoms in different ways, and you should always seek out a professional diagnosis before diagnosing yourself or others with depression.
However, once it has been confirmed- how exactly do you handle being in a relationship with someone suffering from depression?
Educate Yourself About Depression
If the person you are dating has depression, or is showing signs of developing depression, this can be a very scary time for everyone involved.
The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on what to expect going forward, and how to handle symptoms that come up.
Try not to feel overwhelmed by what is going on, always remember that they are probably just as confused and scared as you are.
How to Date Somebody With Depression: Stay Flexible
While you are dating somebody with depression, there are going to be times when you need to cancel or change plans based on how your partner is feeling.
In these times, you should try to remain flexible and open-minded– even if you feel understandably frustrated.
Don’t Blame Yourself
You may feel guilt or anxiety if your partner has depression, and may have thoughts about their disorder being your fault.
Both of you should be putting your energy into a recovery plan rather than staying fixated on what caused it in the first place!
Accept Their Feelings
Depression comes with some big feelings.
Whether that means anger, utter sadness, or hopelessness, your partner will be going through a tough time mentally while they are dealing with their depression.
Try to take their feelings in stride and simply be there for them when they need a shoulder to lean on.
If you reject their emotional needs when they are feeling upset or low, it will only make it harder on both of you.
Don’t Try to “Fix” Your Partner
When you have a partner dealing with depression, the answers to their problems may seem obvious to you.
You may feel like you are helping them when you try to tell them how to act or how to feel about certain situations, but you should leave that job up to the medical professionals in their life.
As a partner, you should be there as emotional support- not as a guidance counselor.
If you start telling them how you would do things differently, they may start to have feelings of inadequacy or resentment towards you.
Recognize Depression Isn’t Everything
Depression isn’t a disorder to be taken lightly, but the good news is that there is a high chance that it will be only temporary for your partner with the right support and medical help.
There are going to be good days and bad days, so make sure to enjoy the good ones and to make your way through the bad days with patience and respect.
If you sustain a strong partnership, you will both make it through this- so remember that depression isn’t the end of everything!
Acknowledge Your Needs
While your partner is suffering from depression, there is going to be a lot of attention and time spent on their emotional and mental needs.
Don’t forget about your own needs simply because your partner is going through a hard time.
It isn’t selfish of you to want some time alone, or to take a moment for yourself to be upset about something.
You are allowed to have your own feelings and troubles, just as your partner is entitled to their own as well.
You will be able to help them through their depression much better if you are in good mental condition yourself, so take care of your own mental and physical health with some self-care from time to time.
Maintain a Balance
There should always be a good balance in both your relationship and in your life in general.
Ensure that you are getting enough time for yourself, your partner, and your hobbies!
When spending time with your partner, be sure to do some activities together that they normally love to do- even if they seem hesitant.
Depression can cause a lack of interest in the things you normally love doing, so putting the effort into continuing those activities will make their life feel more balanced and “normal”.
Participate in Your Partner’s Healing
While you shouldn’t be giving them medical advice or inserting your own opinion into their healing process, it definitely helps for you to be there supporting them through their recovery.
Ask your partner how you can help them in their day-to-day life, and how you can be there for them when their feelings become overwhelming.
Showing support in these ways will tell your partner that you are there for them and their needs- regardless of how that may be.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Wanting to be able to take away your partner’s pain for them can be frustrating and heartbreaking.
It is understandable that you wish there was an easy fix for them, when in reality there’s not.
Some days you are going to say the wrong thing to your partner, or perhaps act in a way that they react negatively to.
In these moments it is important to not be hard on yourself.
This is a process that you are having to deal with just as much as your partner.
Be kind and patient, and the healing will come.
Depression isn’t an easy disorder for anybody to deal with.
Your partner has a distinct advantage, however- they have you to be there for them!
If you are kind, gentle, and accepting of what they are going through, your presence in their life is going to make all the difference as they recover from their depression.
By understanding the realities of depression and developing a strong and compassionate relationship, you can navigate the experience of how to date somebody with depression with confidence and care.
Above all, always remember: never be too hard on yourself when you are dating somebody who is depressed.
Thanks for reading!
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References used in this article
- Torres, Felix. (2020). Depression. American Psychiatric Association. Sourced from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
- Vann, Madeline. (2011). Is Sex an Antidepressant?. Everyday Health. Sourced from https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/is-sex-an-antidepressant.aspx