Suppose you are in a relationship with a partner who has depression, who most likely deal with a mix of emotions and questions, especially when issues arise. It can be difficult to truly understand someone who is struggling with depression. As a result, it can potentially take a toll on your own emotions and impact your relationship. You may find yourself asking a list of questions such as:
What can you do, as a partner, to help your loved one through a difficult time?
What does it feel like to have depression?
How do you know if treatment is working?
How will signs and symptoms affect your relationship?
Although depression has specific diagnostic signs and symptoms that must be included in the criteria, everyone experiences and processes these signs and symptoms in their own individual unique manner.
There is a lot of fiction, especially on the internet, about depression and other mental health disorders, and sometimes these falsities can be challenging to differentiate from fact. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself about depression and use reliable sources with the most evidence-based and current information on the signs, symptoms, complications, and treatment for depression. The more you learn about depression, hopefully, the more you will be able to understand what your partner is experiencing. You can start by asking your partner’s doctor or therapist for reputable reading material. You can start with the following respected sources:
Anxiety and Depression Associaton of America
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
Be there for them but don’t be overbearing
There is a fine line between being supportive without crossing the overbearing line. Make sure your partner knows that you are there to listen or talk, but also give your partner space to decompress and take time to work out the “tough stuff”. Hold them close, listen to them vent, offer to go to appointments with them, help them with chores around the house, sit in silence with them, cook them a good meal and do “actionable” things to make sure they know you are on their side.
Take care of yourself
Being in a relationship with someone who has depression can be stressful, and giving your support can potentially take a toll on your mental health. It is essential to set time aside each day to take care of yourself, whether through engaging in activities that you love, spending some time alone, or joining a support group. Other things to keep in mind include: engage with others to boost your social stimulation, spending time outdoors, fueling your body with nutritious food and plenty of water, exercising, reading a book, sleeping, and communicating honestly with your partner how you are feeling, checking in with your emotions. It may even benefit you to go to therapy for yourself. Caring for yourself might also mean knowing when to take a step back from the relationship and walk away. This is never an easy decision and should always be weighed carefully and may even be discussed with a therapist. However, if you feel that your partner’s depression is taking too big of a toll on your mental health or affecting your relationship in too heavy of a manner, then this may be the right call. If you or your children are at risk of emotional or physical harm, you need to walk away for safety purposes.
Treatment is important
Seeking treatment for depression is imperative. Being an advocate for your loved one during the treatment process can help them receive the treatment they deserve, whether it is medication, therapy, or a combination of both. You can help your loved ones by offering to go to appointments with them and reminding them to take their medication. Symptoms can worsen dramatically once treatment is stopped, and just because symptoms are under control with medications and therapy does not mean that your loved one can take a step back from the treatment regimen.
Separate yourself from the stigma
Although it has improved dramatically over time, the stigma associated with depression and other mental health disorders is difficult. Stigma can lead to shame, self-doubt, low self-esteem and can not only hurt your partner but can hurt your relationship. Please communicate with your partner about our society’s stigma on depression. Talk to your partner about your feelings and ask them how they feel. Unfollow any social media accounts that do not positively support mental health. Distance yourself from people who do not advocate for mental health. In other words, separate yourself from the stigma.
Seeking help for depression at AKUA Mind and Body
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment center that provides residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and virtual treatment to both men and women struggling with a substance use disorder, a mental health disorder, or both (co-occurring disorder). AKUA Mind and Body provides compassionate, evidence-based treatment to all individuals and families. We combine evidence-based medications and psychotherapy approaches with holistic therapies such as meditation, yoga, and equine therapy, as we believe in treating the mind, body, and spirit.
Our clinical staff and ancillary treatment teams take great pride in the care that we provide to our clients and their families. From intake to discharge, we believe in treating the client as an individual and not just treating the disorder. As a result, we provide individualized treatment plans for every client. We offer our treatment services across many locations in California, including Orange County, Newport Beach, San Diego, and Sacramento.
A bit about depression
Major depressive disorder affects more than 15 million adults in the United States. It presents with feelings of sadness, sleep disturbance, loss of interest in activities, guilt, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, psychomotor agitation, sadness, and even suicidal ideation. It can occur in adult men and women, and adolescents and can affect any individual regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States and costs the U.S. society $210 billion per year. Approximately only 40% of this amount is associated with depression itself.
In contrast, the other 60% of this money is spent on lost wages, interventions for suicidal attempts, and treatment for other co-occurring disorders associated with depression. Depression is not necessarily related to a tragic or stressful event such as losing a loved one. Depression does not have to be related to a trigger. Symptoms of depression must persist for at least two weeks and interfere with occupational and social functioning.