If You Think Your Partner May Be Depressed Your First Step Is To Pay Attention To The Clues To Get The Right Diagnosis And Treatment Here’s What To Look For And How To Take Action
When one spouse is depressed, a marriage is depressed, says Fran Walfish, relationship psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, CA, author, and co-host of Sex Box TV. This illness erodes emotional and sexual intimacy and suffuses a relationship with pessimism and resentment, anger and isolation, she explains. Even the sunniest, most capable partner can be pulled into depressions strong undertow. For example, you may be overwhelmed by extra household chores that your partner is too lethargic to finish, resentful because your spouse wont just snap out of it, or feel that youre somehow to blame for the illness itself. You may feel alone yet unwilling to tell anyone theres depression in your household, or you may simply wonder when the sparkle and joy, and the humor and fun seeped out of your relationship. A challenging marriage can worsen depression, but it doesnt in and of itself cause it.
Help Them To Find Support
Your friend might not be aware of what professional support options are available, or they may be unsure of how to get support. Even if they know about support options, it can be daunting to see a health professional.
You can offer support by encouraging your friend to speak to a health professional or an adult they trust. You could offer to join them for the conversation if they want, or even ask if theyd like you to book the appointment if its with a professional. A GP can organise a mental health care plan for them if needed. This means that your friend will get a referral to a psychologist or other professional. Theyll also get Medicare-subsidised sessions getting help doesnt have to mean they have to fork out hundreds of dollars.
Not everyone is ready to see somebody face-to-face. You could recommend hotlines or online chat-based helplines. The ReachOut NextStep tool can also provide tailored support options so they can make their own plan. Here are some support services they could use, and some more information about getting professional support for depression and anxiety.
If theyre not able to seek help on their own, ask for their permission to talk to an adult they trust on their behalf. If they refuse, and youre still really concerned, consider talking to an adult you trust, such as a teacher, parent or school counsellor.
Offer To Help With Tasks
For those who live with depression, even small tasks, like brushing teeth or cleaning up the kitchen, may drain emotional bandwidth. For this reason, offering to help with something seemingly small can make a huge difference in someones day.
If you have capacity, offer to start a load of laundry, walk the dog, watch the kids for a couple of hours, or drive them to the store.
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Support Them To Seek Help For Depression
All types of depression are treatable, whether your loved one is struggling with clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder or any other type of depression, and this is a key message to try and reinforce to your loved one. Connecting with a mental health professional means that your loved ones condition can be evaluated and some proactive next steps put in place but only if they feel ready.
If theyre nervous about speaking to a professional, offer to go with them to any initial appointments and help them to make a list of their symptoms to talk through.
When Good Intentions Go Wrong
It’s possible that you can say all the “right” things and your friend will still become upset with you. Every person is an individual with unique thoughts and feelings, and being angry and upset is the nature of depression.
Sometimes people will lash out at those trying to help them because they are hurting and don’t know where to direct those bad feelings. Whoever is nearby becomes a convenient target.
If this happens, try not to take it personally. Stay calm and continue to do what you can to love and support your friend in whatever way they will allow.
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Can I Come Over And Hang Out
Levity can go a long ways, and a casual visit can help accomplish more than one thing.
One, your loved one might not be up for a group hang, but they may enjoy some one-on-one time to chat.
Two, you can help out with chores and housekeeping while youre there enjoying their company.
Keeping your environment generally organized and tidy may be among the first outward-facing things that slip when depression or anxiety worsen. This means that laundry and dishes might pile up.
This can be especially true when your loved one is also a caregiver of children or other people.
Dont make a show of helping out, and dont comment on how cleaning up will make them feel better. Just do what you can with their permission without seeking anything in return.
Be sure to ask and confirm a time before you show up. No one likes an unexpected visitor!
What Treatment Should I Be Offered
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.
Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.
NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Everyone who may have depression
Your doctor should offer you:
- an assessment of your symptoms,
- support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
- information on how to deal with your symptoms,
- monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 2: Mild to moderate depression
Your doctor may offer you:
- low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- physical activity programmes,
- group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked
Your doctor may suggest:
Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest:
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Take Care Of Yourself
When you care about someone whos living with depression, its tempting to drop everything to be by their side and support them. Its not wrong to want to help a friend, but its also important to take care of your own needs.
If you put all your energy into supporting your friend, youll have very little left for yourself. And if youre feeling burned out or frustrated, you wont be much help to your friend.
Setting boundaries can help. For example, you might let your friend know youre available to talk after you get home from work, but not before then.
If youre concerned about them feeling like they cant reach you, offer to help them come up with a contingency plan if they need you during your work day. This might involve finding a hotline they can call or coming up with a code word they can text you if theyre in a crisis.
You might offer to stop by every other day or bring a meal twice a week, instead of trying to help every day. Involving other friends can help create a bigger support network.
Spending a lot of time with a loved one who has depression can take an emotional toll. Know your limits around difficult emotions, and make sure you take time to recharge.
If you need to let your friend know you wont be available for a while, you might say something like, I cant talk until X time. Can I check in with you then?
Tip : Get A Daily Dose Of Sunlight
Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. Remove sunglasses and use sunscreen as needed.
- Take a walk on your lunch break, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, or spend time gardening.
- Double up on the benefits of sunlight by exercising outside. Try hiking, walking in a local park, or playing golf or tennis with a friend.
- Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows.
- If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box.
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What To Say To Someone Whos Depressed
If your loved one does want to open up to you, its important that you respond to them in a compassionate and supportive way. You could use phrases such as:
- Im here for you if you need me
- What can I do to help?
- This must be incredibly difficult
- Its ok to feel like this
- Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness
- Try to look on the bright side
Learn About Depression On Your Own
Imagine having to educate each person in your life about a mental or physical health condition youre experiencing explaining it over and over again. Sounds exhausting, right?
You can talk with your friend about their specific symptoms or how theyre feeling, but avoid asking them to tell you about depression in general terms.
Read up on the symptoms, causes, diagnostic criteria, and treatments on your own.
While people experience depression differently, being familiar with the general symptoms and terminology can help you have more in-depth conversations with your friend.
These articles are a good starting point:
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When Should I Seek Professional Help
If the symptoms of depression your loved one is experiencing are having a damaging effect on their ability to live a normal life, it may be time to seek professional help. Encourage them to speak to their GP, who can offer you professional advice on arresting symptoms.
With the blessing of your loved one, you might also seek depression treatmenthere at Priory, where we can work with your loved one to develop a recovery programme that fits their needs and circumstances. We offer intensive inpatient stays, weekly therapy sessions that fit in with the life and work commitments of our patients, and online therapy that allows you to recover from the comfort of your own home.
You dont have to struggle with depression expert, established treatment is available. To find out how Priory can help your loved one to overcome your depression and return to a positive way of life, call our dedicated team today on 0800 840 3219 or make an enquiry.
Biblical Figures Who Struggled
Moses became so blue he asked God to take his life.
Jonah, after the great revival of Nineveh, did the same thing.
Jeremiah, after witnessing the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians wrote these words in his journal:
He has made me chew on gravel.He has rolled me in the dust.Peace has been stripped away,and I have forgotten what prosperity is.I cry out, Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!
The great apostle Paul got so down he despaired even of life .
Scripture reminds us that the famous prophet Elijah was as human as we are . Elijah got down just like we do at times when our emotions get the best of us.
You might be surprised to know that many godly people have experienced deep seasons of depression. The trouble is that we tend to put spiritual leaders on pedestals. We imagine that they dont experience the same ups and downs like everyone else. But that isnt true. They can get down, experience emotional pain, and sometimes slip into a trough of depression.
Going back to James 5:17, its a little hard for us to visualize Elijah as a normal person. You wouldnt expect to see him at the DMV or in the express line at the market with chips and guacamole. Somehow, we imagine that his feet never really touched the groundthat he floated along about two inches above the dusty roads.
Have you ever been that low? Are you surprised that some of the greatest men and women of the Bible have felt the same way at times?
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Be Alert To Signs That Treatment Is Not Working
On the other hand, the absence of any such signs most likely means that ones depression is not improving and may be getting worse, Halaris notes, adding that a major concern in the absence of improvement is whether your loved one is having suicidal thoughts.
This is where you need to very gently raise the question whether they are having even fleeting thoughts of their life not being worth living, Halaris says.
According to Mayo Clinic, signs your loved one may be considering suicide include:
- Making statements such as I wish I were dead or I wish I hadnt been born
- Purchasing a gun or hoarding pills
- Fixating on violence, death, or dying
- Withdrawing from social contact with others
- Feeling hopeless or trapped in their current situation
- Telling people, goodbye, as if theyre going to disappear
- Getting their affairs in order or giving away their belongings with no other plausible explanation for doing so
If your loved one shows signs of considering or planning to take their own life, Halaris and Riba recommend taking steps to reduce their risk of attempting or completing suicide, such as:
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Does Depression Look The Same In Everyone
Depression can affect people differently, depending on their age.
Children with depression may be anxious, cranky, pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die.
Older children and teens with depression may get into trouble at school, sulk, be easily frustrated feel restless, or have low self-esteem. They also may have other disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or substance use disorder. Older children and teens are more likely to experience excessive sleepiness and increased appetite . In adolescence, females begin to experience depression more often than males, likely due to the biological, life cycle, and hormonal factors unique to women.
Younger adults with depression are more likely to be irritable, complain of weight gain and hypersomnia, and have a negative view of life and the future. They often have other disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and substance use disorders.
Middle-aged adults with depression may have more depressive episodes, decreased libido, middle-of-the-night insomnia, or early morning awakening. They also may more frequently report having gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
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What You Can Do To Help
Active depression is definitely something people need help moving through, because they lose their motivation. Sad feelings, negative perceptions, exhaustion, and withdrawal from activities lead to a downward spiral. The more depressed they feel, the less they want to be around people, the less they want to do things that used to be fun, the less they want to do anything, the more depressed they feel, which makes them even less likely to engage with life.
Knowing how bad depression feels, people dont want to acknowledge that it could be happening. It is crucial to notice when depression is starting, so active steps can be taken to pull out of it before sliding down into a pit of despair. Here are some ways you can offer support as a friend or family member.
More on Depression
1. Encourage them to seek professional help. People who suffer from chronic depression may not even realize that they dont have to feel that way. Since depression makes people think things will never get better, they often dont bother to seek help. The best thing you can do is patiently but firmly encourage someone with depression to seek professional help. There are a wide variety of effective psychotherapy approaches for the treatment of depression. Encourage the person to look for someone they feel a connection with so that they will be motivated to stick with treatment.
Encouraging The Person To Get Help
While you cant control someone elses recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting to your loved one. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking. The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless.
Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problemand helping them see that it can be solvedis an essential step in depression recovery.
If your friend or family member resists getting help:
Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional. A regular doctors visit is actually a great option, since the doctor can rule out medical causes of depression. If the doctor diagnoses depression, they can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, this professional opinion makes all the difference.
Offer to help the depressed person find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit.Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options.
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