Mental illness is no longer keeping quiet, and depression is making headlines with how it affects relationships. Now more than ever, those with depression are more comfortable opening up to their partners about their struggles, which makes way for a brighter future.
Depression is, unfortunately, more common than we may think, and the notion that talking about depression is taboo has been dismantled, thanks to celebrities who have been open about their struggles. Depression can affect more than just your job, and all too many individuals know the pain it can cause in relationships. The good news is that addressing the depression in the relationship can ease the pain and lessen the burden.
The Impact of Depression on the Relationship
Relationships can be wonderful. In fact, those who suffer from depression are more likely to feel less alone and to have better coping skills when they have a supportive relationship in their life. Conversely, those who are in troubled relationships are three times more likely to develop depression than those who aren’t.
Those who suffer from depression are more likely to feel less alone and to have better coping skills when they have a supportive relationship in their life.
But depression can often make someone feel like a burden, or as if they are not able to contribute to society as well as non-depressed people. And the partners of depressed individuals may feel overwhelmed and expend more energy trying to support them while taking on more responsibilities such as household chores, taking care of the kids, or paying the bills.
Additionally, social events can be a hot button issue when it comes to both partners agreeing when and where to go out. While depression can make a person feel like not going to an event with their loved one, encouraging a depressed partner to have face-to-face contact actually reduces their depression and helps stave off future depressive episodes.
Learn How To Communicate
Depressed people may have trouble conveying their feelings and may feel so overwhelmed that finding the right words is exhausting, but communication is key to improving the situation and maintaining the relationship. Here are some key questions to discuss to help illuminate the depressed person’s experience:
Can you help me understand how you are feeling?
What activities do you find enjoyable right now?
Do you enjoy spending time with others?
How are your energy levels?
Are you sleeping more or less than usual?
Are you eating more or less than usual?
Are you able to concentrate on things right now?
Do you have thoughts of death or suicide?
Talking openly and honestly about the needs of the depressed partner can help the other partner to understand what signs and language to look for. Learning how the depressed partner conveys information, albeit difficult at times, provides an outlet for them to express what they need and eases any unnecessary tension.
As the partner to someone battling depression, it’s extremely important to be aware of the stressful situations that can aggravate or worsen their depression.
The depressed partner also needs to give details about any triggers they have and what coping strategies they use, such as meditation, soaking in a hot tub, or simply crying to release the emotions. As the partner to someone battling depression, it’s extremely important to be aware of the stressful situations that can aggravate or worsen their depression. It’s pivotal for both the depressed person and their partner to know this information so that they can navigate the stormy waters together.
Find a Support Group
Sometimes the supportive partner can’t be the only go-to person. While they mean well, no one person has all the answers. Finding a support group for depression can help the depressed individual express any feelings that may not be communicated otherwise and can give them a different perspective on an issue.
Likewise, the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) provides a support network for families of loved ones suffering from mental illness and can be a sounding board for any possible difficulties that are being faced in the relationship.
Suffering in silence is no longer the only option, and depression can be overcome with enough support and love - especially with a caring and attentive partner.