Questions To Help Support And Collaborate
It can be tempting to just do things for your partner when theyre in a depressive state, because one symptom of depression is lack of motivation. But Julie Fast warns that this may be a mistake, leading instead to increasing their sense of helplessness and dependency.
Karen and Julie suggest these questions to help your partner find their own way through their symptoms, with you there by their side:
- What helped the last time you were depressed like this?
- What do we need to do as a team to get through this rotten downswing?
- Whats the best way for me to help you?
- How are you doing with your medications? Are you feeling any difference?
- Who can we call to help us get through this tough time?
- What do you need from me?
- What changes can help you feel better right now?
Both experts also emphasized the use of collaborative language to help your partner feel supported. Avoid placing blame or full responsibility on your partner, but also avoid taking on all agency or responsibility for yourself.
Be Prepared To Pick Up Some Housekeeping Slack
One notorious thing to fall through during bad depressive episodes? Housework. If a partner can’t get out of bed, then the chances of them cleaning dishes or scrubbing the shower are pretty low.
This is just a reality of the situation â and, if your partner’s only just entered treatment or is experiencing an unexpected episode, it’s one you might have to cope with, temporarily. Encourage them to help out and try not to be resentful: just talk about how to manage with them. Tasks like grocery shopping, which get them out of the house, might be better suited during severe depressive spells.
Tip : Seek Social Support
Work commitments can often make it difficult for men to find time to maintain friendships, but the first step to tackling male depression is to find people you can really connect with, face-to-face. That doesnt mean simply trading jokes with a coworker or chatting about sports with the guy sitting next to you in a bar. It means finding someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with, someone wholl listen to you without judging you, or telling you how you should think or feel.
You may think that discussing your feelings isnt very macho, but whether youre aware of it or not, youre already communicating your feelings to those around you youre just not using words. If youre short-tempered, drinking more than usual, or punching holes in the wall, those closest to you will know somethings wrong. Choosing to talk about what youre going through, instead, can actually help you feel better.
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Helpful Ways To Support Your Partner With Depression
Watching your other half go through depression can be a totally confusing, overwhelming experience.
You may feel helpless, and at a total loss for what to say or do. And while you can’t “fix” the depression for your partner, you can remain a positive force in their life, simply by showing up and giving your unconditional, encouraging support. Here’s how to keep your support and your relationship strong:
How To Reach Out For Depression Support
Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you they just need to be a good listener-someone wholl listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.
Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they dont replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.
Try to keep up with social activities even if you dont feel like it. Often when youre depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.
Find ways to support others. Its nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways-both big and small-to help others: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.
Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed-both powerful antidotes to depression.
Even if youve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
Read Also: Can I Heal From Depression
Depression Might Make Him Feel Unworthy Of Your Love
Because depression tends to affect peoples sense of worth, it can make him believe he does not deserve love.
In this emotional space, dating becomes a chore, said therapist Paul Hokemeyer. Its viewed as yet another problem rather than a solution to free you from depressions parasitic grasp.
If you feel the man you are dating is afflicted with this attitude, be patient. Show him he deserves love that will free him and make his life better rather than becoming another burden.
He Does Not Want To Be Depressed
Depression is not a choice. If any man with depression had a choice, he would choose to be rid of it.
One of the most hurtful things you can do to a man with depression is say it is his fault, that he could choose to be better if his will or character was stronger. Men have a responsibility to try to overcome their symptoms so they dont negatively affect the ones they love. Even the strongest men, however, are not immune to illness and cannot cure it alone.
If the behavior hurts you emotionally, you should know he most likely did not intend to, said matchmaker Cassie Moffit, who has successfully matched couples with mental illness. Knowing this will allow you to be more patient and understanding.
Recommended Reading: What Medication Is Given For Depression
Triggers For Depression In Men
Theres no single cause of depression in men. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills.
While any man can suffer from depression, there are some risk factors that make a man more vulnerable, such as:
- Loneliness and lack of social support
- Inability to effectively deal with stress
- A history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Aging in isolation, with few social outlets
Depression and erectile dysfunction
Impotence or erectile dysfunction is not only a trigger of depression in men, it can also be a side effect of many antidepressant medications.
- Men with sexual function problems are almost twice as likely to be depressed as those without.
- Depression increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Many men are reluctant to acknowledge sexual problems, thinking its a reflection on their manhood rather than a treatable problem caused by depression.
How To Support A Depressed Partner While Maintaining Your Own Mental Health
Looking after someone with chronic depression can be hard, as Poorna Bell discovered when her husband became ill. The first rule, she says, is to look after yourself
There is no lightning-bolt moment when you realise you are losing your sense of self just an absence. When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well. Looking after a partner with mental health problems in my case, my husband Rob, who had chronic depression is complicated.
Like many people, Rob and I were not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, depression. The silence and stigma shaped how he dealt with his illness: indeed, he struggled with the very idea of being ill. He told me fairly early on in our relationship that he had depression, but I had no idea what this entailed the scale, the scope, the fact that a chronic illness like this can recur every year and linger for months.
I didnt know what questions to ask. And Rob struggled to articulate how bad it was. He wanted to be normal so he expended a lot of energy trying to pretend he was OK when he wasnt. In 2015, Rob took his life. The reasons are complex, but I believe it was a mix of depression and an addiction to the opiates he used to self-medicate.
Recommended Reading: How To Cure Depression And Anxiety Alone
Can You Use Exercise To Deal With Depression
Although typical, depression is typically neglected or mistakenly diagnosed and left neglected. This can be serious major depression, particularly, has a high self-destruction rate. And also your genes how to help a spouse through depression or other wellness conditions can increase the probability that youll have at the very least one depressive episode in your life time. To establish whether you have clinical depression, your doctor will ask inquiries.
Never Use Depressive Episodes As A Weapon
This is a massive no-no. Throwing the fact that they didn’t do something for you because they were depressed in their face may be tempting sometimes, because depression is frustrating and harassing and invades your life â but do not give in to the temptation.
Making depressive partners feel guilty as hell about having depression and what it’s doing to you, a person they love, is a sure-fire trigger and will make things worse. It’s also cruel.
Recommended Reading: Depression Test Given By Doctors
Build Your Own Support System: Friends Family Hobbies Community
Remember two very important things:
Its not your fault she is depressed. Even if something you did seemed to trigger a bad day for her, this is an illness in her mind, and if X event hadnt triggered it, Y event would have.
There is nothing you can do to fix it. You cant make it go away and you cant make it better.
What you can do is tell her/show her you love her and be a constant in her life, something she can trust when she cant trust her own mind. Ask her what she wants/needs for support. If she asks for something, follow through if you can.
And build your own support system: friends, family, hobbies, community. I feel being with someone who has depression can be incredibly draining on your emotional resources. Make sure youre securing your own oxygen mask before trying to help her with hers.bringabanana
How To Help Your Partner Through Post Natal Depression
Postnatal depression is hard.
It can range from mild to debilitating and has an affect on everyone, not just Mum. Dads can feel helpless and a little frustrated and other kids in the family will usually cop some of the brunt as well.
Partners, family and friends can all have an important role in a womans recovery from PND. Having a baby and PND both place great stress on relationships and a woman with postnatal depression may withdraw from everyone, including her baby and partner. The support of family members, especially her partner, is crucial in helping her recover.
Read Also: Can Depression Be Treated Without Drugs
Suggestions For Family And Friends
- Ways you can help a loved one who has PND include:
- Find out as much information as you can about PND.
- Check out the great tips from beyondblue for family and friends to best support an expectant or new mother.
- Be patient and understanding.
- Ask the couple how you can help.
- Offer to babysit.
- Offer to help around the house.
- Let the mother know you are there for her, even if she doesnt feel like talking.
- Appreciate that the father may also be emotionally affected by the demands and challenges of new parenthood.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing feelings of depression or Postnatal Depression contact beyondblue for support, advice and an action plan. For further advice and assistance you can also find resources on our Important Hotlines and Websites post.
Dont Take It Personally
There is the person you fell in love with, who makes you laugh until it hurts and then there are the bad days, when you are dealing with a stranger who wont let you in. Depression can magnify or alter emotions, says Dr Kousoulis. A person can have emotional highs and lows in equal degrees, so it is important not to take changes personally.
This can be easier said than done. I found my own coping mechanisms therapy, exercise and lowering my expectations of what I needed and wanted from Rob when he was feeling bad. I knew that somewhere inside this person was my husband, so from time to time, Id leave him postcards telling him how much I loved him. He didnt react in an effusive way but I know it got through because he kept every one in a memory box.
Above all, hold on to your love. You wont always feel as though you are making any progress, says Hardy. You, too, may feel helpless at times. But your patience, kindness and understanding make such a difference.
Chase The Rainbow, Poorna Bells memoir about life with her husband, is published by Simon & Schuster.
The Samaritans helpline is 116 123.
In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
Read Also: What To Do When Starting To Feel Depressed
The Depression Coming Out Conversation
Whether you ask or deduce it after months of dating, there will be a point when your partner discloses they deal with depression. Its a crucial moment in the relationship, so be sensitive and do not judge. Thank him for trusting you with this information he has most likely not shared with many people. See it as the beginning of a discussion you can resurface occasionally.
Break The Ice Gently Yet Firmly
If you suspect your partner is depressed, dont blurt out a laypersons: Youre depressed! or announce: You better get help! In order to begin the process of healing, approach your spouse with concern and with an action plan, Walfish says. You might say, Im concerned about how feeling tired and losing your appetite are affecting you. You deserve to feel better. Our doctor may be able to help you, and Id like to arrange a time when we can meet with him. Next week, I can go on Wednesday or Friday. Whats good for you?
Recommended Reading: Medication For Depression And Anxiety And Weight Loss
Encourage Them To Seek Help And Support Them While They Do
Depression needs treatment, but seeking treatment can be especially difficult for depressed people. One of the best things you can do as a partner is to encourage every step they take towards getting help, whether it’s through therapy, prescribed drugs, support groups, whatever. And keep them motivated when it gets hard, which it will.
It can be tough to do it diplomatically â particularly if they’re resistant â but make it clear that you’re a team, rather than bossing them around.
Dating A Man With Depression: What You Need To Know And Do
When you date a man with depression, it can become a struggle to maintain a relationship with him and protect your own mental health. The experience is not fundamentally different than dating someone without a mental illness, but there are issues that are more likely to arise.
Note: We discuss the following insights in the context of dating men, but they apply equally to women. Scroll further down to read about behaviors and situations you are more likely to encounter with men only. Also realize you are not guaranteed to encounter these issues when you date someone with depression. Depression simply increases their likelihood. We also wrote an article about issues you are more likely to encounter with women only.
Read Also: Is My 10 Year Old Depressed
Signs That Someone May Be Depressed
Depression has lots of possible symptoms.
You may notice that someone:
- has lost interest in doing things they normally enjoy
- seems to be feeling down or hopeless
- has slower speech and movements or is more fidgety and restless than usual
- feels tired or does not have much energy
- is overeating or has lost their appetite
- is sleeping more than usual or is not able to sleep
- has trouble concentrating on everyday things, such as watching TV or reading the paper
Depression Is Widely Misunderstood
Major depression is a widely misunderstood illness. It is a biologically based disorder that appears in a variety of disguises before being diagnosed. It can appear as irritability, moodiness or changes in personality and may manifest itself differently in men and women. In men, depression often includes increased anger, irritability and alcohol and drug use. In women, symptoms may include withdrawal, tearfulness, lack of energy and an inability to concentrate.
Many of the behaviors associated with depression arent under the sufferers direct control. You cant tell them to snap out of it any more than you can people with diabetes or other biological illnesses.
Recommended Reading: Online Support Groups For Teenage Depression
Take Care Of Yourself
If your partner refuses to seek help, you should treat the illness the same way you would an alcohol or drug problem and step up the intervention. You may need to go so far as to threaten to move out if your partner doesnt get help. Thats especially appropriate if you have children, since research has shown that one of the most significant factors in raising mentally healthy children is to have mentally healthy parents. Often, that understanding alone can compel a spouse to get help.
Another important step along the way is to take care of yourself. Be sure to get enough sleep, exercise and eat healthfully. If you detect you may be suffering some symptoms of depression yourself, follow the same advice you would offer your spouse: seek help from your family physician or a counselor.
You may also benefit from reading some good self-help books. Feeling Good by David Burns is particularly helpful. It focuses on changing thought processes and patterns that accompany depression, such as avoiding all-or-nothing thinking, perfectionism, taking things too personally, dwelling on negative things from the past and overgeneralizing.
Prognosis for depressed spouse is promising
The prognosis for depression is good, once its diagnosed. Though it can take three to six months to achieve significant improvement, 80 to 90 percent of cases can be effectively treated, usually with a combination of medication and counseling.