How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend

Here are a few tips on how to deal with a depressed boyfriend, plus information about the signs of depression in men. I wrote this article for a reader who wants to help her boyfriend deal with depression.

how to deal with a depressed boyfriendHow You Can Survive When They’re Depressed: Living and Coping With Depression Fallout by Anne Sheffield, Mike Wallace, and Donald F. Klein is the book you need if you recognize symptoms of depression in men. Depression is a serious emotional health issue, and it can’t be treated or solved in one blog post. Get help when you’re learning how to deal with a depressed boyfriend.

How do you relate to a boyfriend who is depressed? How do you act, and what should you say? These tips are for girlfriends who aren’t sure how to deal with a depressed boyfriend and the symptoms of depression in their relationship.

Here’s what Krystie says: “I have every reason to believe my boyfriend suffers from depression – he has all the classic signs. For the first time three weeks ago, he said he thought he was depressed. He is a very supportive, kind and loving boyfriend, but recently that has changed and he can be rather cold and hurtful. I try to understand that this is just the depression talking, because I know the person that he otherwise is. His depression has put a real strain on our relationship and it hurts me. I told him that I felt his depression was the core of our issues and other issues in his life, along with ADD, which his kids also have. I told him depression clouds, confuses and masks emotions, feelings, desires, wants and needs. I don’t know what else I can do. Do you have any thoughts on how to deal with a depressed boyfriend? Whatever you can offer would greatly be appreciated.”

Another book to read if you think (or know) your boyfriend is depressed Is He Depressed or What? What to Do When the Man You Love Is Irritable, Moody, and Withdrawn. It’ll help you recognize his symptoms and deal with your boyfriend’s depression. The book will also show you how to take care of yourself and not get lost in his depression.

Signs of Depression in Men

The tricky part of recognizing depression in men is that often doesn’t look like depression at all. Depressed boyfriends often mask their depression with workaholism or substance abuse. Sometimes they withdraw from their girlfriends, wives, and other loved ones – or they lash out in aggressive ways.

If your boyfriend is depressed, he won’t necessarily walk around crying or being glum and sad. Rather, he may show signs of extreme fatigue, listlessness, social isolation, weight gain or loss, changes in sleeping patterns, or feelings of being overwhelmed. He may abuse drugs or alcohol, or take his feelings out on you. Dealing with a depressed boyfriend is especially challenging when it affects his personality or behavior towards you.

Helping your boyfriend deal with depression might include suggesting that he see a psychologist or psychiatrist, or get the right information about symptoms of depression in men. Sometimes antidepressant medication helps; other times talk therapy is most effective. It depends on your boyfriend’s depression, personality, lifestyle, and other health issues. Unfortunately, all you can do is learn how to deal with a depressed boyfriend – you can’t actually make him happy with his life or fix his problems.

Is your boyfriend’s depression leading to abuse in your relationship? Read 5 Signs of an Abusive Boyfriend.

Signs of depression in men include

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained changes in behavior
  • Loss of interest in sex or physical intimacy
  • Withdrawal or detachment, in communication or otherwise
  • Irrational thoughts, phobias, or emotional issues becoming increasingly evident

“These signs of depression differ by personality and by gender,” says depression expert Rich Naran. “The most intimate person – the partner of a depressed person – will perceive the subtle changes before a co-worker or a neighbor does. In fact, partners will see changes that others don’t grasp.”

You may recognize these symptoms of depression in your boyfriend before anyone else does, because you’re closest to him. You may even be in a codependent relationship.

How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend

symptoms of depression in men

“When Your Boyfriend is Depressed” image by chaoscake via DeviantArt

Dealing with a depressed boyfriend depends on the signs of depression and how your boyfriend is coping with the idea of being depressed. Because of the social stigma of mental illness, denial and retreat are common when it comes to men and depressed feelings. Depression affects all relationships.

Learn all you can about depression

Depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain or a hormonal imbalance – it’s not necessarily caused by a difficult life or recent tragedy. Depression can be caused by less sunshine or a lack of certain nutrients. To help your boyfriend deal with depression, think about what the possible cause could be. You don’t need to diagnose or treat his depression…just think about his lifestyle and way of handling life’s problems.

Never treat your depressed boyfriend like a sick child

Let him know that you perceive something is wrong, but don’t demean your boyfriend by “trying to cheer them up.” In fact, never use the words “cheer up” in any fashion. You can’t raise his self-esteem or make him feel better — depression is more serious than simply “snapping out of it.” This is one of the most important tips on how to help a depressed boyfriend.

Be watchful, but respect his space

Your depressed boyfriend has an illness that needs to be treated if it goes on too long. But, he has to be ready to get help before he can be helped. If you think he’s ready to think about accepting and overcoming his depression, read Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It offers a few tips for treating depression that aren’t as scary or threatening as medication or counseling. The treatments will help men overcome the signs of depression.

Avoid being a crutch or “enabler”

dealing with depressed boyfriend

How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend

If your boyfriend is depressed, don’t take over all the responsibilities or create a situation that allows him to stay depressed and not get help. You need to find the balance between giving space, and encouraging your boyfriend to get depression help.

Knowing how to deal with a depressed boyfriend is always about NOT becoming his mommy, caretaker, housekeeper, or personal assistant.

Think about your future

If you’re considering leaving your depressed boyfriend, accept that there is no easy way to separate. Make a clean break, not a slow agonizing weaning off, which only fosters more guilt, emotional pain, and stress. The breakup has to be clean, or it will mess up both your lives even more.

Are thinking about breaking up with your boyfriend? Read How to Break Up With Someone Who is Depressed.

If you feel guilty about your boyfriend’s depression…

Don’t struggle through this alone – find out if there are any depression support groups or counselors who specialize in depression in your community. Going online and reading about signs of depression in men is good, but it’s important to get in-person support if you want to learn how to deal with a depressed boyfriend.

For more help with depression and men, read How to Cope With a Moody Boyfriend.

How do you feel about dealing with a depressed boyfriend? I welcome your thoughts below – but I can’t offer counselling or advice. Please call a depression help line if you’re struggling with your relationship.

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May you and your boyfriend become emotionally connected, and learn how to deal with depression as a couple. May you grow emotionally and spiritually strong and healthy.

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