Dating a depressed partner is extremely difficult. It can even affect your own mental health. Here are tips to handle a relationship with someone who has depression.
Are You Dealing With a Depressed Partner Or Is It Just Sadness?
Before we get down to the signs that your partner could be having serious mental health issues, it’s important to know first the difference between sadness and depression. This is important because as both may appear similar, ways of handling them could be different.
Sadness is an emotion that all of us experience at times, triggered by disappointing events. However, it is short-termed and people usually find relief after crying and other ways of relieving vexation. It is how our mind responds to specific situations that are upsetting. There is a reason we feel sadness.
Depression can also be caused by the same upsetting situations, but it lasts for 2 weeks or much longer. It affects all aspects of your life, from physical to emotional and mental health. Furthermore, depression takes away the joy of doing things you love, and functioning normally becomes almost impossible. It is an illness that would impair someone who suffers from it if left untreated.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
The next question is “what are the things to look out for?” to confirm that you’re dating a person who is suffering from this illness. Most symptoms are obvious.
If you often hear your partner complain about feeling exhausted even when he or she doesn’t engage much in heavy activity, it may be a sign of depression. Fatigue in depression makes it difficult for the sufferer to complete even the easiest of responsibilities. It affects your partner’s physical, cognitive, and emotional aspects.
Other symptoms include but are not limited to:
• Feelings of despair or hopelessness
• Anxiety (commonly, depression is paired with anxiety where you feel panicky, endangered, and worrisome)
• Social isolation and loneliness
• Irritability and feeling violent
• Physical aches and pains that don’t respond to normal treatment
• Disinterest in sexual activity
Tip #1: Social Support Should Be Your Priority
Most of the time, depression occurs without a reason. And you might think, how are you going to be any help. That’s easy. Assure your partner that you’ll stay with him until he or she feels better. Say “I am here for you,” or “I’ll listen to you whenever you feel the need to talk,” instead of forcing them to cheer up. You’ll trigger them more that way.
If you are wondering why your depressed partner doesn’t react positively most of the time to your attempts of cheering them up, don’t think it’s because what you’re doing is not enough. That’s just how depression works. When your partner is having a depressive episode, everything from their perspective is negative.
Giving your 100% support can be draining. But always remember that your depressed partner needs you more than anyone else.
Tip #2: Know Your Depressed Partner’s Triggers
This is probably one of the most important things you should consider if you really want to improve your relationship and livelihood with your depressed partner. Try to understand it. Although episodes occur without a specific reason, there may be unnoticeable lifestyle habits or approaches that trigger your partner’s depression.
It could be about upsetting life events from the past like the loss of a loved one, rejection, a breakup, etc. If so, try to approach your partner regarding these issues with caution. Assure them first that you don’t mean any malice when mentioning anything relating to their triggers. You can say, “I hope you don’t mind if I talk about this…” or “I don’t mean anything bad…”
If your depressed partner’s episodes are mostly triggered by lifestyle habits such as not getting enough sleep, not eating healthy, or social isolation, create an environment for them that’s the opposite of these unhealthy habits. Take the opportunity to hang out with family and friends if they feel upbeat. Plan and cook healthy meals instead of buying microwavable dinners.
Tip #3: Engage in Physical Activities Together
Exercise helps you lose weight, is good for your bones and muscle, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. It’s common knowledge that it’s good for your physical health, but it also does wonders for your mental health!
When your body is physically active, your brain produces mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins. This will make you feel more positive and energized. That will help you accomplish whatever you need to do. Furthermore, it strengthens your memory and boosts intelligence. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, physical activity is just the answer as well. Exercise doesn’t only make you feel tired, but it also increases body temperature, which calms your mind.
Engaging in physical activities will not only benefit your depressed partner but your relationship and dating life too. Depression causes the sufferer to lose interest in sexual activities and regular exercise just brings back that sexual arousal.
A relationship with someone who is depressed is absolutely tiring. You’ll have to exert double effort to make it work. But while your partner’s mental being is important, you also have to remember to monitor yours.
It’s OK to ask for your partner’s support when you also need it. And when you find yourself at a dead-end, you are free to lean on your family and friends’ shoulders. You are not alone. Besides, if you want to help your depressed partner, you must be strong enough, because you will be the foundation of your relationship. So take care of your mental health.
Depression is an illness and if it becomes too difficult to handle, it could impair someone and lead to suicidal tendencies. Remember that it’s also not a bad thing to seek medical attention for both you and your partner.