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Signs Your Partner Might Be Depressed And How to Deal with It
Depression can cause someone even your partner to lose interest in both the people and the activities they love. It can also cause low motivation. Depression impacts nearly all areas of life, including sleep patterns, eating habits, work or school, hygiene, socializing, self-worth, and relationships.
While it’s important to have a doctor or licensed mental health professional diagnose depression and create a treatment plan, you might be the first person to notice symptoms in your partner. If your partner exhibits any suicidal thinking, get help immediately.
How to Deal with Conflict with Your Depressed Partner
Depression and relationship conflict can exist in a cyclical pattern because depression can trigger irritability, angry outbursts, and withdrawal from loved ones, but relationship conflict can also spark feelings of depression. The two overlap.
Caring for and living with someone coping with depression can be emotionally taxing, but there are steps you can take to work through and prevent conflict.
- Establish clear and healthy communication patterns. Transparency is very important when dealing with complex mental health issues. Daily emotion check-ins that focus on feelings and triggers establish transparency and normalize talking about feelings and symptoms. It also helps to set clear boundaries. If you need a break, say that. Holding in your own needs to care for your partner will only cause resentment and empathy fatigue.
- Self-care plans are essential. Both partners need specific self-care plans to use daily to keep stress levels as low as possible. Your plan should include how and where you receive support, daily exercise that fuels energy for you, time away from providing care, and hobbies that give you emotional space from the caring role.
- Take a pause. Sometimes conflict sneaks up on you even when you’re practicing self-care and adhering to one another’s boundaries. It’s OK to pause a conflict to step away from the anger and frustration. Come up with an agreement that if one partner calls a pause, that’s the signal to shift gears and do a needs assessment to figure out how both partners can work through the issue in a calm and productive way.
What If My Partner Denies Having Depression?
When one partner in a relationship is living with depression, it becomes a shared experience. This is even more complex when the depressed partner denies having depression.
Denial of depression can occur for many reasons, including:
- They really don’t feel like anything is wrong
- Lack of awareness about symptoms – many symptoms overlap with what people consider medical symptoms, like fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal distress
- They’re low on energy and they don’t want to talk about it
- They feel hopeless and don’t see any way to feel better
- They are functioning well enough that they don’t think they have depression
- They rationalize their symptoms as normal ups and downs of adulthood
How to Approach Your Partner About Help
First, prioritize your self-care. It’s exceptionally difficult to help someone else when you are running on empty.
Second, focus on helping, not fixing. Try the following:
- Educate yourself. Books, articles, and your own therapy can all be useful tools as you learn to navigate your supportive role.
- Ask your partner how you can best support them. What do they need to feel supported?
- Offer to seek therapy together to work through this difficult time.
- Reinforce that you are a team and you will support your partner through this.
- Reach out to close friends and family for additional support.
Read More : 7 Ways to Help a Partner Deal With Depression
How Depression Affects Relationships
Depression can negatively affect relationships because it can result in conflict, disconnect, and poor communication. One partner might feel isolated and alone. If the depressed partner is experiencing a low mood, the other partner might feel worried and anxious about their overall wellbeing. Depression also affects everything from work, to socializing, to sexual desire, so the ripples of depression within relationships reach beyond low mood. Depression can affect financial stability and employment.
Given the complex nature of depression and the many ways it affects both partners, it’s important to identify communities of support to help both partners work through it together.