10 Ways To Support Your Partner Who Has Depression

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Mental health can be a tricky thing to get your head around, especially when you’re not the one suffering. Being in a relationship with someone who has depression can be draining. It can even cause you to deal with some mental health problems of your own. 

It’s important to understand what issues others are going through to help take care of ourselves. Here is a list of things you can do for your partner, and yourself, to help ease the pressure and stigma of mental health.

1. Do your research to understand what they're going through

Depression has many symptoms that I didn’t realize had anything to do with the illness. My boyfriend had anger issues, felt worthless and guilty, isolated himself and couldn’t grasp his feelings for me. The sooner you do your research and put things into context, the easier your relationship will be. It will benefit you and your partner by understanding that everyday tasks are challenging. It will lower some of the expectations and allow your partner the freedom to focus solely on their health. 

2. Let them know you’re there for them, regardless of their depression

I spent nights wondering what I could do to make my boyfriend feel at ease. Then one day, I came right out and asked him what he needed from me. He only needed me to make sure he felt like I was there for him. Depression can affect people’s sense of worth and feel as though they don’t deserve to be loved. Your relationship may feel like a chore and trying to care for your needs and happiness will only make your partner feel like a failure. Try to be patient and show him that he isn’t a burden. Remember that he doesn’t want to be depressed and none of this is his fault. Let them know that you are in this together and offer to do simple tasks to show them that you’re willing to help them.

3. Respect their privacy and don't force them to open up

It took my boyfriend months to work up the courage and get some help. He always hated doctors and refused to go to any appointments. But when he finally spoke to someone, I thought it was important not to bombard him with questions about his session. Although a relationship is based on communication and trust, there are some things that need to be kept private. Books and films romanticize what a relationship should look like but every relationship is different. Allow your partner the privacy of their thoughts by removing the pressure to open up. Sometimes a hug or another show of affection can say far more than words.

4. Don't take everything to heart, it's not your fault

There were plenty of sleepless nights and teary eyes because my boyfriend became detached. Little did I know, he was pushing me away because he didn’t want to hurt me. He knew that eventually he would blow and didn’t want me in the firing line. Remember, your partner does not mean to hurt you intentionally. It may feel like your partner doesn’t care, along with a lack of attention, but depression clouds their thoughts and doesn’t leave much room for anything else. It can be hard not to think that you’ve done something wrong or that he doesn’t love you anymore but reminding yourself that its part of the process helps. 

5. Give him space, it'll stop him from distancing himself

If I could go back and tell myself to give my boyfriend the space and time he needed - it would have saved a lot of arguments. Depression caused him to pull away making him distant, which left me needing more. I felt that it was my responsibility to push him to talk to me and chase him up. Little did I know that it was only making the situation worse. I was smothering him with my needs thinking that it would help our relationship. Your partner needs time to heal, which can be difficult if they need to ensure you’re content. Sometimes it’s best to let them come to you.


6. Talk to your friends, they've probably experienced depression too

We were in university when the depression first hit my boyfriend. Luckily, I was living in a house full of my best friends that I could talk too, digest the situation and have a good cry. It was even more helpful to have one of the girl’s who’s been the one to suffer from mental health whilst in a relationship of her own. Today, I still ring up those girls and pick at the situation. It helps to hear from an outsider that you are doing the right thing and it is completely normal to feel guilty and selfish for wanting your partner to hurry up and deal with it. It may also help you to seek out counseling for yourself too. 

7. Remind him that you love him

The days come and go where it feels like you’re sinking deeper into a black hole with no way of escaping. It can be tough to see how you can both get through the situation and you may even begin to question the relationship. It’s completely normal to feel lonely when you’re dealing with a partner with depression. I decided to make a list of the reasons why I fell in love with my boyfriend and noted some of the funny and loving memories that we shared. I put it all into an email and sent it to him. Although it’s only a short-term fix, my boyfriend became more attentive and apologized for his lack of communication. Not only does this remind you who your partner truly is, but it will also show them that they are worthy of love. 

8. Pick your battles wisely

It took me so long to realize that angry impulses are a symptom of depression. My boyfriend would lash out on little things. So, whenever I complained about something that had changed in our relationship, he would quickly get defensive and hostile. Understanding all the symptoms of depression gives you an insight into why your partner has changed. Things might be different, but it’s important to know that it’s not forever. Try to stay positive, clarify what you mean and resist the urge to get defensive as this will just cause more harm than good. 

9. Try not to overthink

I was often left feeling lonely, confused and overwhelmed by my boyfriend’s depression. It took over him completely like he became a different person to the one I fell in love with. Depression affects the people around it, making us feel anxious and question everything about our relationships. Although, it’s not easy and almost every day I worked myself up until I was an emotional wreck. However, just knowing that this is a normal process and others are having the same anxious thoughts too makes it a lot easier to push through. 

10. Get out and about without your partner

We are told that relationships are about doing everything together, and being joined at the hip. But that’s unrealistic. It’s even more unrealistic if one of you is suffering from depression. When my boyfriend was first diagnosed with clinical depression, we had already planned to visit my family. All of a sudden he wasn’t feeling up to slapping on a smile and making small talk. It can be hurtful when your partner doesn’t want to spend time with you, but it’s important to let your partner know that you will be fine without them. Taking the pressure off your partner by letting them know that they aren’t responsible for your social life and happiness will allow them to work on themselves and give you time for self-care. 

Whilst counseling and therapy are great ways to ease mental health, your partner’s issues may return. It can be tough to continuously go through the ups and downs but just remember that this isn’t who they are, it’s just an illness. 

Written by: Ashleigh Curley

10 comments

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