If your partner has depression, it’s common to feel helpless and lost. You may want to help them overcome, but you don’t know how. Fortunately, if you don’t want to be on the sidelines anymore and want to help your partner overcome actively, our Berkeley Therapist, Dr. Lynn Winsten, has some advice.
Watching as your partner battles depression can leave you feeling frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed. Generally, it might feel like your partner is rejecting or ignoring your attempts to help. Ultimately, you may start feeling like you’re responsible for their depression.
At its core, depression can cause isolative tendencies that can strain relationships. Typically, your depressed partners will have episodes of extreme sadness, hopelessness, discouragement, and instances where they feel defeated.
As a result, they project these feelings through angry outbursts and blame games to rationalize their condition. They’ll also withdraw from social interaction or avoid any pleasurable activity. Unfortunately, to a partner, the behaviors of a depressed party make it seem like they no longer care about themselves or finding happiness.
Combined, these factors make it hard to figure out how to help a depressed partner. However, while depression can be confusing, as Dr. Lynn Winsten notes, partners are essential during recovery. Here is how you can help.
Learn About the Condition
Helping a partner with depression overcome it can be an uphill battle if you don’t understand the condition. Unfortunately, most people’s perception of depression is formed from society’s descriptions and skewed understanding of the condition.
So, what characterizes depression? For starters, a depressed partner will have mood swings where one moment they’re happy and the next extraordinarily moody and displeased or unpleasant.
Generally, depression is not static – the emotional and physical state of a depressed partner can change on a whim. Understanding this as a loved one will help you recognize when your partner needs your support in one form or another. Some of the signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Hopeless outlook
- Loss of interest in regular activities such as work, hobbies, sports, etc.
- Increased fatigue and sleeplessness
- Irritability in men
- Fluctuating appetite and weight
- Uncontrollable emotions
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
As Dr. Lynn Winsten suggests, understanding depression equips you with sufficient insight to identify when your partner is struggling the most so you can offer adequate and appropriate support.
Show Up for Them
There are multiple ways to help your partner overcome depression. While support groups and working with a professional like Dr. Lyn Winsten, our Berkeley therapist, give your partner the best chances of recovery, showing up and being there for them even on the worst days is equally important.
Yes, you may not have any of the answers they need. However, being there, listening, and offering a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold might be all they need to recover. Most importantly, it may be just what you need to improve your relationship.
Let your partner know you’re there for them, they matter to you, and that you’re with them to the end.
Even though depression often causes severe symptoms that affect daily activities like work, school, and social interactions, most people don’t recognize they’re depressed. On the other hand, the few who do believe they can snap out of depression with time.
However, as Berkeley therapist Dr. Lynn Winsten notes, therapy is the only surefire way of improving depression for good. Encouraging a depressed partner to see a therapist improves their chances of recovering and regaining their vigor to live, do, and be better.
It’s not uncommon for a depressed partner to be in denial or defensive upon suggesting therapy. Nonetheless, you can encourage it by:
- Making them aware of the symptoms you’ve noticed
- Expressing your concern and willingness to help and support them throughout their treatment period
- Discussing alternative or complementary treatment methods
Create a Home Support System
It’s easy for the loved ones of a depressed person to feel like they’re at fault. Similarly, the misconception about depression can make the depressed partner feel judged and uncomfortable in their home.
So, it’s essential that you create a support system that makes your partner feel safe, loved, and cared for at home. One way you can create a home support system is a lifestyle change to improve your partner’s sleep, appetite, and overall health.
Things like healthy eating, exercising together and giving your partner positive reinforcement go a long way in assuring your partner you have their back. Additionally, working with routines gives the depressed partner a sense of structure, effectively reducing stress and anxiety.
Break Down Goals Into Smaller Ones
If your partner has depression, they’ll feel overwhelmed most of the time. As a result, even the simplest activities can seem insurmountable.
Therefore, it’s essential that you help and support your partner in achieving their daily goals by breaking them down into smaller tasks. Most importantly, recognize and acknowledge the little accomplishments to boost their motivation and make them aware they’re doing something right.
Watch Out for Suicidal Tendencies
According to the World Health Organization, about 700,000 cases of suicide every year are attributed to depression. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for severe, moderate, and mild depression.
Still, over 75% of those affected by the mental disorder don’t get adequate treatment due to factors including lack of resources, the social stigma associated with the condition, or lack of access to trained mental health care providers like our Berkeley Therapist, Dr. Lynn Winsten.
Among the suicidal tendencies to watch for include the following:
- Talking about suicide and thoughts of death
- Attempting suicide or getting means that would make it possible (stockpiling pills or buying a gun)
- Social withdrawal and extreme mood swings
- Engaging in self-harming and dangerous behavior
- Personality changes and getting their affairs in order
Dealing with a depressed partner can cause havoc on your relationship and personal well-being if you’re not equipped for it. However, understanding the symptoms and warning signs of depression allows you to seek treatment before it gets out of hand.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this journey, and with a guide for dealing with a depressed partner, you can help your loved one overcome and get their life back on track for the better.