Your partner’s depression may involve emotional distance, lack of interest in love and intimacy, and exhaustion. These tips for dealing with a partner who is depressed may ease the strain your marriage or relationship, and even strengthen your connection.
These tips for coping with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or marriage partner’s depression are from Dr Melvyn Lurie, author of Depression: Your Questions Answered.
Before his tips, a quip:
“In these 20 years of work among the people [in Calcutta], I have come to more and more realize it is being unwanted that is the worst disease any human being can ever experience.” – Mother Teresa.
Feeling unwanted and isolated is a huge factor in depression — and so are feelings of loneliness and fatigue. One of the best books on overcoming depression is The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.
The more you know and understand about depression, the better you can see what to do and how to help a depressed partner.
And here’s what Dr Lurie says about coping with your spouse’s depression…
Dealing With Depression in a Love Relationship
Expect him or her to lose interest in physical intimacy
Losing interest in your love life is common in people with depression. “Whether from the inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia), inability to feel love, social withdrawal, or something more direct, interest in intimacy is frequently diminished in depression,” writes Dr Lurie. Further, losing interest in your love life can trigger other communication problems in relationships.
Has your partner lost interest in love or intimacy? Find other ways to express your physical intimacy, such as a massage or bubble baths together. And, remember that communication and intimacy problems can be triggered by depression.
If you’re wondering if your relationship is in trouble, you might find 10 Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship helpful.
Don’t be surprised if your depressed partner tries to make you feel bad
This happens more often than you’d think! When someone feels incompetent, worthless, and unenergetic – which people with depression often do – they may project their feelings onto their partners. That is, a depressed partner may consider his or her partner as incompetent, worthless, or unenergetic.
“This kind of defense doesn’t work very well because it drives people away,” says Dr Lurie.
To cope with your partner’s depression, be aware of how negative feelings are projected. It can help simply to know why people dealing with depression make others feel bad, and learn to shrug off those behaviors. Learning how to cope with your partner’s depression in a relation can involve developing a thicker skin.
If you’re confused about your relationship, read Is Your Marriage Good or Bad? 3 Myths About Being Married.
Be aware of how depression can lead to relationship breakups
People dealing with depression may feel isolated, misunderstood, attacked, and unloved. They may withdraw socially, want to be alone most of the time, and lose touch with the ability to feel love. This causes communication problems in relationships. Plus, people with depression may become critical and argumentative. These factors make it difficult for a relationship to survive.
And, knowing how depression and relationships can co-exist can help smooth things over. Deciding in advance how to handle the negative parts of the relationship will prepare you for most anything. Also, contacting a Distress Line, depression support group, or counselor is a great idea, especially if you feel like you’re not dealing with depression and your love relationship very well.
And, knowing how to overcome depression can help you understand your depressed partner, which can help you cope.
For Single People Dealing With Depression
Learn how depression affects your dating life
“Low self-esteem from depression can stop you from pursuing, let alone achieving, your goal of curing your loneliness,” writes in Dr Melvyn Lurie in Depression: Your Questions Answered. “This is a vicious cycle – your low self-esteem prevents you from curing your loneliness, and your loneliness worsens your depression and further erodes your self-esteem.”
Do things that increase your self-esteem, such as taking small risks and crossing things off your to-do list. If you’re dealing with depression, do little things every day to help you feel better about yourself.
Are you dealing with depression in a relationship? Sometimes it helps to write about your experience and feelings. I welcome your thoughts below — and I encourage you to consider calling a depression help line if you need support.