Learn everything you need to know about depression and its causes, symptoms, and treatments to better support your loved one.
There are many myths about depression. For example, depression is not simply the result of laziness or weakness. Your partner’s pain may not just be in their head. Depression doesn’t need a reason. If you are unfamiliar with depression, challenge preconceived thoughts, ideas, and stigma by educating yourself.It’s especially important to validate your partner’s feelings and experience of this very real and biologically-based illness, and, just like any other illness, it can be treated.
It can be very stressful coping with another person’s depression. It’s OK to take some time out for yourself. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, you’ll both be better off if you carve out time to safeguard your mind, body, and spirit. Try:
- Try eating a healthy diet
- Exercise or just taking a nice walk
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing relaxation strategies
- Spending time in nature
- Practicing prayer or mediation
- Staying socially connected
- Participating in hobbies and activities you enjoy
Caring for yourself might also mean knowing when it’s time to say goodbye. Certainly, this decision should be weighed carefully (and ideally discussed with a mental health professional), but you may need to walk away if you or your children’s emotional or physical well-being or safety are at risk.
When someone you care about is depressed, it’s OK for you to feel frustrated, angry, and upset. It is very important, however, that you don’t allow these feelings to fester and grow. Therapists, counselors, and support groups are not only for people with depression. Seeking professional help for yourself can help you feel supported, vent your frustrations, and make you more aware of your own emotional needs.
Therapy can also provide answers to any questions you have about coping with the depression of a loved one. Even if you don’t go the mental health professional route, it’s important to lean on your support network during this difficult time.
One of the most important things you can do for someone who is depressed is simply to be there for them and verbalize your support. Hold them close or just listen while they share their feelings. Offer to help them with making appointments or doing some of the daily chores that they are struggling to keep up with. Let them know that you are there for them in whatever way they need while they make their recovery.
Depression can make people behave in ways that they normally wouldn’t when they are feeling well. They may become angry, irritable, or withdrawn. They may not be interested in going out or doing things with you like they used to. Your spouse or significant other may lose interest in sex. These things are not personal, and they don’t mean that your partner no longer cares for or about you. They are symptoms of the illness that requires treatment.
Just like when a person has any other illness, they may simply not feel well enough to take care of paying the bills or cleaning the house. And, just like with any other illness, you may have to temporarily take over some of their daily chores until they feel well enough to do them again.
Treatment is vitally important to a person’s recovery from depression. You can help your loved one by helping them keep up with taking their medication and remembering appointments. You can also help them by reassuring them that asking for help is not a sign or weakness or something to be ashamed of.
If you are seeking therapy for individual or couples counseling please feel free to contact me.
Dr. April Brown