Hey, do you know that millions of wonderful people all over the world suffer bouts of depression on a regular basis? And with that staggering statistic, the chances are high that many of us will be in a relationship with a depression sufferer. Bearing this in mind, we need to realize that at some point we will encounter depression in others, such as friends, family, colleagues at work or school, our boss or even our partner. Depression can be devasting – especially when it happens to your partner and you often think of different ways to help a partner who has depression.
Changes in the seasons, the loss of a loved one, trauma, abuse, chronic stress, losing a job or getting a divorce. Can all trigger depressive episodes.
Depression affects the way people think, the way they feel and how they function from day today. It also makes people hate themselves, criticize themselves harshly for perceived mistakes, or even blame themselves for things that are beyond their control.
While some people describe depression as having a feeling of impending doom, others experience it as feelings of lifelessness, feelings of anger and aggression. It can manifest as substance abuse and make a sufferer feel that they are living in a dark hole. There are constructive things that can be done to support people with depression.
Here are 15 simple things to keep in mind if your partner has depression
- Depression does not always need a reason to strike. Have you ever felt suddenly sad without understanding the reason why? That’s depression. it can leave someone in a fog for hours and sometimes days. If it happens to your partner, they might not always know what’s going on – even when you ask them if there’s something wrong. At such times, a gentle hug is always helpful and can make them feel that they are not alone and is the best way to help your partner who has depression.
- Even though you must always hope for good things in your relationship, you also need to learn to be prepared for potential mood swings when Autumn/Winter closes in. Daylight savings is great as we get an extra hour of sleep but other than that things can start to look bleak. When it gets dark faster, don’t be surprised to experience emotional roller coasting, and please be understanding if your partner isn’t as excited for apple-picking as you might be.
- Depression wears people down literally; fatigue, lack of enthusiasm and lack of energy are common symptoms associated with this mood disorder. So, my advice is don’t expect much. If your partner does not feel like leaving the house, don’t force them. Be open minded supportive and observant; besides, cuddling sessions and movie nights can be just as fun.
- Humour is like medicine! Encourage humour and find creative ways to make your partner laugh. Who doesn’t love a good laugh? Laughter has a lot of health benefits, physically and emotionally. Therefore, you might want to consider watching some comedy shows together – anything that gets the laughter going or cracks a smile – and maybe those hilarious chick flicks you grew up with.
- People suffering from depression could be irritable or restless, they could also feel anxious, hopeless, helpless, or even useless. Most certainly, they will have trouble concentrating and making decisions. Their sleep patterns, appetite, and weight could also be affected. Try not to overreact. Things might get tense when you’re at your last straw trying to figure out your partner’s depression, so remember try not to be irritable, it’s not personal.
- Depression is more than mere sadness; it is more like a dark cloud hanging heavily over the victim who often just wants to sit quietly in one place and be alone. Depression makes getting out of bed and showering sometimes feel like the hardest things to do, so try your best to help with chores, and don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand when that laundry basket gets full. You will feel great when you help your partner who has depression with their day to day task.
- Inasmuch as you really want to remain glued to your partner during a depressive episode you also need to respect their boundaries. Avoid crushing them with your constant presence, try to give them space to be with their feelings. The time they need alone doesn’t mean they love you any less. When the depressive episode is over, you can spend quality time together.
- No one is an island so discuss you might discuss your partner’s depression with a very trusted friend or a mental health professional. Sometimes a third party’s perspective is all that it takes to connect the dots when you’re worried about your partner. Who knows? Your friend might just be able to give you good advice especially if they’ve had experience with depression in their own lives.
- Depression is not a death sentence, and it won’t affect your partner forever. It is treatable with appropriate medication and therapy. So, encourage your partner to find a professional Psychotherapist. However, don’t allow your partner to self-medicate, it’s important for your partner to talk to their doctor about the many options that are available when it comes to anti-depressants.
- They need you more than you could imagine. Of course, they don’t necessarily want a hero (although that would be nice in an ideal world) but your comforting words could go a long way to reassuring them. Give them words of hope and words of affirmation. Let them know they can always lean on your shoulder. They will really appreciate you just being there for them.
- As depression can worsen considerably when the victim is left alone, do your best to reach out to them unexpectedly and spontaneously. It’s difficult to find the balance between giving someone their space and leaving them alone but as a rule of thumb; giving someone their space means being with them in the house and letting them know that you are present should they need you, whereas leaving them alone could be you getting into your car and driving off somewhere. In the words of Mother Teresa, ‘The most terrible poverty is loneliness.’ So do your best to be around and make yourself available; stay within reach. Making yourself available is the best way to help your partner who has depression.
- Avoid passing judgement or blame on them – even if they are actually guilty. Depression has a way of making its victims feel worthless; as a matter of fact, when people suffering from depression are blamed – instead of being encouraged and offered hope – they might begin to entertain thoughts of suicide or actually harm themselves. So, be easy on your partner. Save the judgements or arguments for later, or better still, for never!
- You’ve probably been in a relationship together for some time, so you know each other quite well. By now you know their favourite music, flowers, fragrances etc or their best scenes – maybe a TV screen, a waterfall or trees being swayed by the wind. There is a power in music that lifts the soul, so play your partners’ favourite songs for them, but make sure it’s not too loud or noisy! And if they want, give them the opportunity to see the things you know excites them the most.
- Help them win the fight against depression by loving them unconditionally. I mean, demonstrate your love – say it in words and show it in actions. Depressed people often feel a deep sense of guilt, they believe they are a burden to their loved ones. Reassure your partner there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, but that you’re mad at their condition and you’re willing to stand by them until you are both victorious. Trust me, it will work like magic when they hear you say that! The reassurance of your love and your support through thick and thin is the best way to help your partner who has depression.
- Give a listening ear to whatever your partner wants to say. Sometimes, allowing them to vent their feelings reduces the heaviness or mood swings caused by depression. As they share their feelings with you, listen patiently or hold them close if you can. A physical touch from a loved one passes a message to them that they are cherished and understood.
No one in their right mind would ever wish to be depressed, however, we must learn how to handle both ourselves and the sufferer if depression strikes. Battling with mental disorders can be daunting and exhausting, so, instead of demanding a lot from your partner, a gentle and understanding approach will help them improve, even strengthening and growing your relationship and increasing their confidence in you, simply because you handled it in an understanding manner.
Is your partner struggling with depression, or maybe someone you love? First, we want to say thank you for standing by them and giving them support – that is, if you really are. I encourage you to apply the tips shared here, but do not limit yourself to only reading – also get medical help for them if you can! We want you to know you are not alone. Our hearts are with you, eagerly longing for their speedy recovery. We also encourage you to kindly share this post with someone, you never know who it might help!
Do you have any questions, comments, or contributions? Please don’t hesitate to share them with us. And do let us know some of the challenges you are going through in our comment box below – we just might have the answers you need.
With love and thanks.