Depression is a complicated mental health disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. It’s 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 you’ll need to learn if you’re dating a depressed person. Practical tips can help you foster a closer relationship with your partner.
Recognizing Relationships Depression
The first step in helping your partner heal is recognizing the emotional and physical signs of depression. Some of the common symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling depressed or having a sad mood
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Experiencing changes in appetite (weight gain or weight loss without diet modification)
- Sleep disturbances (sleeping too little or too much)
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Movements like pacing, hand-wringing, or slowed speech
- Thinking about death or suicide
If you can identify one or more of the above symptoms in your partner, you may be dating someone with depression.
It’s a challenging situation, but not a hopeless one. Instead of fighting your partner’s depression, you can devote yourself to learning how to manage it.
In the following paragraphs, we give you 10 tips on how to date someone with depression and help them heal with empathy, care, and love.
#1 Educate Yourself About Depression
Understanding the complexities of depression is critical to being a supportive partner. If you’re dating someone with depression, educate yourself about the illness by reading expert articles online and talking to others who have been in similar relationships. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of what your partner is experiencing. Perhaps consider a consultation with the highly experienced team at Rosglas Recovery to gain a better handle on what’s going on.
Remember, depression is not the same as bereavement or grief. The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or the loss of a job are difficult life circumstances and it is normal to feel sad in such situations, but with time, people overcome these feelings.
Also remember, there are various causes of depression. So, don’t make assumptions about what’s making your partner depressed. At some point in the relationship, your partner will likely disclose that they deal with depression. Be sensitive and non-judgmental. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, but respect their boundaries.
#2 Stay Flexible
Depression is a complex illness, so when you’re dating someone with depression, you need to stay flexible. Your partner’s mood can change unpredictably. This can interfere with their ability to participate in activities. For example, if you’ve made plans for Friday night with friends, don’t be overly disappointed if Friday comes around and your partner doesn’t feel like hanging out with others. Take the change of plans in your stride. Suggest doing something within your partner’s comfort zone, like the two of you watching a movie at home.
The mistake many people make when dealing with depression is blaming their partner. You have to remember that they’re not canceling plans to make you unhappy. They’re dealing with a psychological illness that makes it difficult to function normally.
#3 Don’t Blame Yourself
When you’re dating someone with depression, you shouldn’t blame them, but it’s equally important not to blame yourself. Oftentimes, you might find yourself wondering if you said something or did something to upset your partner, causing you to become anxious (you can do a self-assessment test for anxiety if you suspect this is happening).
Remember, your partner’s depression is not about you. A variety of environmental factors trigger their mood disturbances. You shouldn’t feel terrible that your partner is behaving in a certain way or blame it on your actions.
Your misplaced reactions to your partner’s depression can make you feel unloved but also makes them feel misunderstood. A better approach is to recognize the illness and be your partner’s ally in managing it.
#4 Accept Their Feelings
Loving someone with depression means allowing them to have their feelings. People with depression tend to hide their emotions because they don’t want to be a burden. This is especially true if their partner has been going out of the way to be understanding.
However, it’s important to allow a depressed person to acknowledge and express their feelings. Sometimes, they may not even be sure of why they feel sad or hopeless. It’s not as simple as “I feel sad because…” If it were that easy, then you could simply fix whatever’s causing the depression.
When you’re dating someone with depression, make sure to let them know it’s not their fault and encourage them to talk about their feelings.
#5 Don’t Try to “Fix” Your Partner
It’s heartbreaking to see someone you love suffering. Your instinct is to make everything okay by “fixing” them. So, what do you do? You crack jokes. You suggest watching a funny movie. You recommend listening to a TED talk about depression. But depression is not something you can fix with kindness and love. There is no magic cure that can get rid of depression overnight.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to support your partner. For instance, if you’re dating a girl with depression, try to figure out what areas of your relationship could benefit from more open communication. Ask her what she needs to feel loved and supported. Learn what triggers her depression and talk about coping strategies. Keep in mind that every depressed individual is unique, so what helps one person may not help another.
#6 Recognize Depression Isn’t Everything
When you’re dating someone with depression, remember the illness doesn’t define them. Your partner will have many feelings and thoughts that are unrelated to their depression. As a result, they may feel discontented with the relationship. Don’t attribute everything they say to their depression. For example, if your partner says they’re feeling ignored, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion “it’s just the depression talking.”
The thing about depression and relationships is you’ll have to learn to separate mood changes related to depression from legitimate grievances. The best way to do this is to have frank, honest conversations with your partner and forge an emotional connection with them.
#7 Acknowledge Your Needs
Dating someone with depression can be exhausting after some time. The person who is struggling often takes center stage in the relationship. As a result, your needs and wants are put on the back burner. But it’s important to acknowledge your feelings. For example, if you have a showdown with your teenager, it’s okay to feel angry or disappointed. Remember, you’re human too and you can’t just turn off your feelings to accommodate your partner’s depression.
Be your authentic self with your partner and share your feelings with them. Also, develop a social network of family and friends to broaden your support system. This will ensure you’re not entirely reliant on your partner who may not always be able to help you.
#8 Work on Your Sex Life
Being in a relationship with someone who has depression can affect your sex life. Both depression and the medications used to treat depression can affect a person’s libido (desire for sex) and the ability to enjoy sex.
When you’re dating someone with depression, you should be prepared to work extra hard on your sex life. There may be instances when you feel frustrated or unloved. If you’re dating a man with depression, for example, he may be embarrassed to talk about erectile dysfunction caused by depression medications. Be sensitive and understanding and talk openly about your feelings.
#9 Maintain a Balance
Learning how to love someone with depression can be hard. You have to continuously meet your partner’s needs often at the expense of your own needs. The key to feeling fulfilled in a relationship is to maintain a balance. When you’re dating someone with depression, it’s natural to try and make them feel better. But while this may be necessary to do for a short while, it’s not something a relationship can withstand in the long-term. So, from time to time, put yourself first and don’t feel guilty about it.
#10 Participate in Your Partner’s Healing
Depression is treatable. Therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes can help people get better. Professional therapists are trained to support people in managing their depression symptoms. If you’re dating someone with depression, encourage them to get help. And remember, if you’re juggling depression and love, the best thing you can do is be your partner’s cheerleader, support them within their boundaries, and recognize the hard work they’re putting into healing.
At Rosglas Recovery, our expert psychologists take a comprehensive and holistic approach to treating depression. Besides evaluating the biological factors that could be causing depression, we also take into account the social and lifestyle factors that are unique to each individual. If you’re dating a person who is struggling with depression, don’t wait until your relationship has been damaged permanently. Talk to us today and take the first step toward healing.