How To Support Your Partner Who Is Struggling With Depression

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

How To Support Your Partner Who Is Struggling With Depression

Depression is a unique experience. It can be hard to understand what it’s like when you have not felt it yourself. Clinical depression feels different than sadness.

There are several different types of depression. Most people will experience situational depression at one point in their lives. This is a depressed mood in something that is upsetting. Situational depression often goes away, and people are able to live normal, functioning lives.

What Is Clinical Depression?

Clinical depression is not like other types of depression. It is not the same as situational depression. When you are clinically depressed, the depression is a part of you. It is a burden that you must carry every day.

Clinical depression causes many different symptoms, like:

  • Insomnia and sleep issues
  • Lack of interest in things you normally would enjoy
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Binge eating
  • Suicidal thoughts Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair Poor or inconsistent hygiene
  • Isolation and withdrawal from family and friends

People who are in relationships with people who have clinical depression face their own challenges. They may struggle with frustration with their partner. They may not understand why their partner has mood swings. They may have thoughts, like “why can’t they just snap out of it?” or “Why am I doing wrong? Why can’t I make them happy?”

If you are dating or are in a relationship with a person who is clinically depressed, there are several things you need to understand. This article will outline 9 important facts you must know when you are in a relationship with someone who is clinically depressed.

1. Clinical depression is much more than feeling low, down, sad or blue for a few days

Clinical depression is a chronic condition in which a person feels depressed. They suffer from oppressive symptoms that are mentally, physically and emotionally draining. Clinical depression is a chronic condition, meaning it can affect a person for months or even years, even with proper treatment. The severity of the condition will change. Some days will be harder than others, for both you and your partner.

2. Depression can make you angry

When a person is depressed, that depression affects every area of their lives. Clinical depression can manifest in different ways, like irritability, anger and rage. It can be hard to control because it is hard to be self-aware when feeling depressed. Many people with clinical depression do not realize how their behavior affects themselves and others.

3. Depression can come in waves

People with clinical depression will have some good days, but mostly bad days. Just because a person has one good day doesn’t mean they’re doing better, and one bad day doesn’t mean that they are not trying.

4. You cannot just “get over” depression

Depression is not a state of mind. It is a clinical disorder that affects the mind and body. Clinical depression is not something that can be turned on and off, and it is not something that people can just get over on command. Your partner likely knows you are frustrated, and they are frustrated, too. If you are feeling this way, try talking to them about it, and consider consulting with a mental health professional for individual and/or couples therapy.

5. You must be patient when supporting a partner with depression

It is important to not internalize their own depressed mood and have it reflect on your own self-worth. Their depression is not reflective of your ability to be supportive of your partner. In order to prevent burnout while with a partner who is clinically depressed, reflect on what you need. Set and stick to boundaries, and remember to take care of yourself as well.

6. Enabling a depressed partner is not helpful

Of course, you want to help your partner, but at the same time it can be detrimental to fall into a pattern of enabling. While well-intended, being too accommodating, or catering to your depressed partner may make their condition worse.

To prevent enabling, set specific expectations and boundaries for you and your partner. Understand what each of you expects and needs from each other, and remember to be mindful of your own mental health and wellness in the process.

7. A strong support network is very helpful in managing depression

People who are able to cope with stress while depressed often have a strong support network. They have family, friends and mental health professionals who all provide the support, guidance and motivation needed to keep them going. Building a strong support network of family, friends or peers is helpful because it takes all the pressure off of you, and helps your partner gain initiative in supporting their own mental health and wellness.

8. You both can benefit from counseling

There are limitations to the support you can provide. Sacrificing your own health and wellness it could negatively affect your partner. Encourage your partner to seek professional counseling in such a situation.

It could be helpful for you to seek counseling as well. It can help you gain a strong understanding of clinical depression, how to support your partner, and how you can keep yourself well.

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