What if the One You Love is Depressed?
Depression is an insidious illness that afflicts millions of people. It can significantly disrupt a person's
life, and can even be disabling. Sadly, the majority of people with depression are never diagnosed and never
Depression doesn't only affect the person who has it, it also impacts those closest to him or her. If you are in
a relationship with a person who has depression, it affects you as well.
It can cause a plethora of problems in your relationship. It disrupts intimacy - both sexual and emotional, can
cause one or both of you to withdraw or isolate, and can lead to very negative feelings such as anger, resentment,
and hopelessness. These negative emotions can further erode the relationship.
For the person with depression, it often leaves them feeling ashamed and frustrated. That's in addition to some
of the regular symptoms of depression which may include irritability, guilt, worthlessness, sadness, and in the
worst case scenario, suicidal thoughts.
Other symptoms of depression include lack of energy, low self esteem, poor concentration, feeling restless or
empty, difficulties making decisions, changes in appetite and sleep
For the partner of someone with depression, it can feel
overwhelming and draining as you pick up the slack. You may end up being the sole financial provider, while doing
the bulk of child rearing and tending to household responsibilities.
It can be extremely difficult living with someone who is depressed, especially if you have never
experienced depression. You may find yourself wondering why your partner can't or won't just "get his act together"
or pull himself out of it. If only it were that easy...
It is even more challenging and exasperating if your partner is blaming you for his or her depression. Perhaps
you did something that hurt his feelings or left her feeling inadequate.
If this is occurring in your relationship, you must remember that you are not the "cause" of your partner's
depression. Period. This doesn't mean you have the right to be hurtful, unkind, inconsiderate or abusive no matter
how hard it gets.
But you are not responsible for your partner's happiness. And if they try to pin that on you, don't take it on.
And let your partner know that you will not accept any blame.
So, what can you do?
Keep the lines of communication
open. Don't expect to understand how your partner is feeling, but have frequent open conversation in which you
both discuss your feelings. Brainstorm about the best ways to handle this together.
Set clear boundaries with your partner. If he or she goes into "this is your fault" mode, make it clear that you
will end the conversation at the point.
Encourage your partner to get professional help. Many people respond very favorably to psychotherapy and / or
medication for depression.
If your partner is unwilling to get help then you need to decide if this is a relationship in which you want to
stay. Don't give an ultimatum per se, but do discuss your feelings openly with your partner and let him or her know
what you are thinking. He or she may not realize just how much you are being affected.
If you stay, you increase your risk for depression significantly. This does not mean your partner is to blame
for your depression, so do not ever go there.
Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. It's especially important during this time that you get
support for yourself. The encouragement you receive from others can help you through this very challenging
Depression is an ugly illness. But it can be successfully treated. Help your partner help themself by
acknowledging his depression. Continue to function as a team, and be as supportive as you can!
It's a little off-topic, but before I go, I want to tell you about an exciting new product for long distance
relationships. It's called "Long Distance Lovers" and it's all about making long distance relationships work. It
helps by overcoming the 2 main issues that face you when you are in a long distance relationship:
o Fear of your partner being unfaithful
o Relationship boredom
Author of Long Distance Lovers, Leslie Karsner, PhD, is a specialist in this field and her course covers
everything you need to ensure that your long distance relationship is a lasting one.
Check it out here: http://savingthelove.com/LongDistanceLovers.html