Has your partner just been diagnosed with depression?
It may be hard for you to understand what is going on.
A Partner’s Guide to Depression
When somebody is suffering from depression, it can have a negative impact on every facet of their life – including their relationship with you.
You may have noticed your partner showing signs such as sadness, low mood, loss of interest, irritability, and feelings of being unable to cope with day to day life, as well as expressing negative thoughts and feelings. They may have been experiencing problems with concentration, focus, and memory – which can result in problems with work or study.
Perhaps you have noticed that your partner’s eating or sleeping habits have changed – making them more vulnerable to illness.
There is a high chance that your sex life has been affected, as loss of desire or libido is common in people with depression. As a result, your partner may be feeling guilty and uneasy, and you could be feeling anxious and isolated.
In addition, depression can have even more widespread effects, impacting family and others.
Without treatment, depression can last weeks, months or even years. Many people suffer in silence, unwilling to admit that they may have depression. This is extremely sad, as your partner – and you – do not need to suffer needlessly!
Helping Your Partner with Depression
First of all, attitude is everything – that is, the attitude of both you and your partner. Try to stay calm and keep positive, and help your partner to seek out help, and follow their treatment. It can be a relief to actually receive a diagnosis; actually knowing that something IS wrong, can be the first step in beating it.
Early detection and treatment prevents needless suffering, for both you and your partner. Unfortunately, depression tends to spread, so everyone involved has to be careful not to fall into it also – that means you! It can be extremely draining being around somebody with depression so make sure you are taking care of yourself – as well as them.
Here are some practical ways that you can help your partner with depression:
- Know that your enemy is depression (NOT your partner). It is important to develop an approach to depression based on the “we” and not “I”.
- Learn all you can about depression. Read widely and seek professional help. If the depression has been present for a long time, your relationship will also most likely require some tender loving care.
- Organise individual recovery strategies with your partner. It is the safest way to attack depression.
- Create additional support systems, and organise help. Complaints only fuel resentment and aggravate the problem, whereas expression helps the healing process. Your support network may include friends, colleagues, churches, support groups and any place you consider safe to share about what is happening.
- Perform recovery activities together, such as attending therapy sessions, and reading books about overcoming depression. Exercise together, or keep records of moods. If you have children that are old enough to understand, talk to them and teach them about depression.
And remember, depression counselling has been proven very effective in helping sufferers to recover from depression so make sure your partner is seeking help from a professional.
Author: Janet Moreno, B Sc Psych (Hons), Grad Dip AOD, M HRM, Associate Member ASORC.
Janet Moreno is a psychotherapist and rehabilitation counsellor with over 11 years of experience. She is fluent in both English and Spanish, and sees children, adults and couples.
To make an enquiry or book an appointment with psychotherapist Janet Moreno, freecall 1800 877 924 today or book online.