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Over the last few years, there’s been a greater focus on support and advocacy for those who struggle with mental illness. This is a good thing, as all of us should care about and prioritize our own mental health. It literally impacts every one of us, especially in close relationships. So, let’s dive deep into some tips and insights for dating someone with depression.
Depression symptoms are a combination of mental health conditions that affect how you think, feel, and act. They include mood changes, sleep problems, and worsening of your cognitive well-being, among others that are specific to your case.
Although it can be missed, depression is easy to spot when you know what to look for. As depression manifests in you or your partner, you may begin to notice certain aspects of behavior starting to change. When dating someone with depression, you may begin to notice some of these behavioral changes and symptoms:
These are only a few of the depression symptoms that you should keep your eye out for. In fact, there are many different types of depression, each of which has slightly different symptoms. Major depressive disorder, seasonal affectiveness disorder, and bipolar disorder are just a few examples. You should consult with a professional doctor about that.
“Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression. Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.”
Dating someone with depression can be somewhat difficult at times, but it doesn’t have to be. In recent years, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety have been on the rise much more. This is because more people have been gaining more knowledge about the disorders and becoming more accepting of them as well.
According to a study done by Columbia University, nearly 1 out of every 10 Americans report experiencing depression symptoms. This means that there is a 10% chance that your partner will have depression or that they already have depression.
Don’t be afraid or run to leave the person you love: by understanding depression and learning what to look for, you help to keep your healthy relationship strong and show your partner that you care about them and their mental health.
When you are dating someone with depression, offering your help during more difficult times of mental illness is crucial. Emotional support is a heavy necessity for anyone with a mental illness, and there are many things that you can do to help yourself and your partner with the mental health problems you may experience. Check out this list, and see what you can do with your partner’s depression – from healthy coping skills to support groups you can join.
“Types of depression include (1) major depressive disorder (known as clinical depression), (2) persistent depressive disorder, (3) postpartum depression, (4) psychotic depression, (5) seasonal affective disorder, and (6) bipolar disorder.”
Remember that different types of depression make for different symptoms and treatment options. Almost all forms of depression need some kind of professional help.
A depressed person may require different levels of emotional capacity, they may need in-person therapy rather than online therapy. There are also different ways to cope with a depressive episode that a person can use that align with their type of depression.
By learning what kind of depression they are experiencing, you get an idea of the professional help you can help them find and what you can do to help them.
When you are with someone with depression, a support network is one of the most important things for them to have.
Let them know that you are there for them. Do that even if they go through periods of social withdrawal and act like they don’t want to be around others. Knowing someone is willing to spend time with them even while experiencing negative feelings can make depressed people feel more accepted.
Remember that depression makes people feel frustrated, sad, and any number of negative emotions. While certain factors can trigger these, according to clinical psychology, a depressive episode is often random and unpredictable.
Couples therapy can help guide you through depression with those you are in romantic relationships with. However, it’s best to understand that depressive phases should not be taken personally.
When one partner is dealing with depression symptoms, it is important to set mutually healthy boundaries with each other. Take the time to discuss coping strategies you both can use, as well as a support group or information service either of you should join when the depression feels like it’s taking too much control.
By setting these boundaries, you prevent situations in which you feel overwhelmed or even feel hopeless.
Please do NOT date someone with depression or anxiety or any mental illness and expect the illness to go away. Don’t say “I make you happy so why are you depressed” or “I’m right here how dare you have a panic attack? I should make you feel safe” because that’s not how it works.
— Mental health (@DisorderSad) May 3, 2019
People who experience depression often feel discouraged about being open with their feelings. That’s why, sometimes, they will keep the fact that they feel depressed a secret. This is because a stigma is attached to those who experience symptoms that make many feel self-conscious.
By letting them know that you are there for them, you encourage them to communicate. And when they communicate, you learn what you can do to help them. Listen actively: it gives you a better chance of learning if they show warning signs of more concerning behaviors.
Whether you are dating someone with depression or simply listening to a friend with depression, you give them a minor type of individual therapy. While this therapy is not to the standard of help that a professional can give, the extra support may make them feel heard and motivated to seek the help of a professional they need.
Related reading: Setting Relationship Rules For a Healthy Partnership
Whether you ask a couples therapist or a psychologist, many professionals will tell you that one of the best things you can do for a partner or anyone you have a relationship with is to help them through their daily life.
One of the best days to help the person you have a relationship with is to join them for their self-care routines and activities. This can be anything from a skin care regimen to watching educational videos in your pajamas together. You can even encourage them to join you for some physical activity too.
By helping the person you have a relationship with through the unique challenges of depression, you provide support and leave them feeling fulfilled.
Remember that our needs are crucially important in relationships. But as you learn to understand depression more, you discover when you or your partner needs more help. Something as simple as a text message asking what you can do to help them can strengthen your relationship. This way, you will show your partner that you wish to help them through their daily life.
One of the best things you can do in a relationship is accept your partner. Depression can often make people feel guilty about how they treat others. As well as make them feel guilty about how they treat others they have a relationship with. By letting them know that you accept them and their feelings, you show them that you do care about them.
“By far the most common [phrase] is ‘It’s fine,’ ‘It will be fine’. You’re stating that there really isn’t a problem that needs to be addressed, period. You’re kind of shutting out the possibility for further contemplation.”
Stephanie D. Preston, professor of psychology
Toxic positivity is an issue that has been around for the longest time and has a major negative effect on any type of relationship. It’s not normal to be happy all the time, and if you have to be happy constantly, it can strain your mental health and, in turn, your relationship. Let your partner know that it is ok for them to be sad, but don’t be afraid to voice your concern.
Self-harm is often something someone partakes in during the worst points of depression. Keep an eye on your partner for signs of hurting themselves, such as bruises, cut marks, wearing long sleeves in warm weather, or avoiding removing their clothes. Harming oneself is an extremely unhealthy coping strategy, and if you see signs of it in anyone you have a relationship with, you should encourage them to seek professional help.
Remember that even if you love someone with depression, you should not neglect your mental health in favor of helping them with theirs. Depression affects many spheres and can often feel contagious. That’s why being around a depressed person for too long can make you feel like you are experiencing depression yourself. Let your partner know that you love them and care about their mental health conditions, but make sure to take occasional breaks to help with your mental health needs as you need to.
Don’t take it personally – depression shouldn’t make anyone feel like a bad person or partner. Regardless of the stigma attached to it, seeking support and prioritizing your own needs are valid actions to save your relationship and not let negative thoughts ruin it.