Depression is a medical condition that does not only affect the person with a diagnosis but also that person’s family, friends and coworkers. A close family member, such as a partner or a spouse, is almost as affected, if sometimes not more, by the said person’s behaviour, feelings and thoughts, which can in turn put a burden on their relationship.
There are various ways to treat depression, such as family therapy or counselling, to help both persons understand and accept the affected individual’s state, and hopefully to overcome it. Further, depression affects everyone differently, as it can range from mild to severe, or fluctuate between different degrees.
It is important to remember that depression is treatable and that no one needs to go through it alone, but treatment does require substantial time and effort from both parties.
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Help Your Partner Overcome Depression
Encouraging your partner to seek professional help is one of the first steps towards overcoming depression. Family therapy, couples counselling or one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional may prove to be just as important as taking medication.
In fact, many psychologists and psychiatrists agree that combining psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy is the best treatment option for depression. Ask your family doctor for a referral to a mental health professional or a family therapist, and make sure both you and your partner are comfortable with the person you choose.
If you need to schedule your partner’s appointment, do it. Even if you need to drive your partner yourself to the appointment to make sure he or she gets there, do that too. Support your partner and do the little things that make life easier and more enjoyable.
In addition to formal therapy, keep in mind that there are some everyday things you can do to help both yourself and your partner, such as making a conscious effort to have fun together, getting enough sleep, eating as healthily as possible, trying to focus and take on responsibilities, just to name a few.
Don’t forget that coping strategies for helping yourself while supporting your partner through depression may include seeking professional advice outside of family therapy, sharing your experience with a friend or someone who has been in your shoes, and learning as much as you can about depression to help you better understand what your partner is going through.
Types Of Depression And Where You Fall On The Scale
Depression is a disorder that can affect a person to a different degree. Some people suffer from mild depressive episodes that last for a few weeks, while others battle major depression for years. Most people fall somewhere in between and the level of depression that they feel can vary from time to time.
Individuals with mild episodes of depression and their partners can help each other get past the rough patch in their relationship by focusing on one another, by being attentive and understanding, while trying not to let the depressed person bring the other individual down as much as possible, although this is very difficult to achieve.
Partners dealing with major depression should definitely seek counselling and professional help, with the partner who is not depressed trying to keep things together and their head above the water.
The intensity of depression can depend on the cause of depression, or better yet, on the event that triggered a depressive episode. Identifying the trigger can go a long way in finding the best approach to deal with the problem.
Losing a job, relocating or breaking up with someone are some of the triggers known to lead to mild depression in individuals of various age groups, while losing a loved one, getting divorced or being diagnosed with a serious illness are some of the things known to trigger longer and more intense episodes of depression.
Depending on what caused the depression, partners can weigh their treatment options and work on focusing their attention on the positive things in their lives.
Things To Avoid When Dealing With A Depressed Partner
Never losing sight of your goal, which is to help your partner and save your relationship, is how you can find the motivation you need to stay strong and positive while dealing with this serious issue.
Your partner is likely to look to you for motivation as well, so it is also important to keep in mind there are some things you need to avoid in order to get to where you want to be. Don’t be pushy when bringing up your partner’s condition as this will lead to agitation and a reaction opposite of what you were hoping to get.
Don’t take what your partner is going though personally because it is not. Depression can come to anyone at any time and nobody likes or chooses to be depressed. Try to avoid arguments as much as you can.
A person who is depressed is apathetic and hardly able to take on any responsibility, so arguing with such a person is fruitless and will seldom lead to resolving any issues. Don’t postpone seeking treatment because depression is an illness and should be recognized as such and be treated professionally.
Consequently, encourage healthy activities, communicate with your partner regularly and constructively, and most of all, never lose hope because your partner is counting on you during this difficult time so you need to stray strong for both of you.
Still, find time for yourself, focus on enjoyable activities, stay healthy, and remember that depression affects different people from different walks of life and it can happen to anyone.
Read more: 5 Surprising Reasons You Aren’t Happy
Having a partner who is battling depression can put a serious strain on any relationship. Yet, there are many things at our disposal to help us overcome this problem. Seeking professional treatment is one of the key steps towards getting better, and if combined with eating healthily, getting enough sleep and focusing on activities you and your partner find enjoyable, it can definitely reduce the time it takes to get back to normal.
Being patient for your partner who is uninterested, lethargic or even hostile is a tall order, and while recovery time for depression may seem longer than the persons around the affected individual can take, doing the little things to support the depressed person can do you both good in the long run.