Relationships with couples involve an important commitment. Therefore, in the event that our romantic partner is affected by any circumstance, it is natural to provide them with the necessary support to overcome the situation they are going through.
This is something that many people are clear about when facing a certain thought that comes to mind: “My partner has depression, what can I do to help her?”.
In this article we will look at some helpful tools to offer support when a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife has depression, we will briefly review what this mental disorder is and distinguish state depression from trait depression.
What are depressive symptoms?
Depression can be defined as a mental disorder consisting of intense and prevalent states of sadness and lack of motivation (abulia). If a person has depression, it is most likely that their partner (if they have it) notice in their daily attitude that something strange happens.
It is important to establish whether it is a depressive state, which would be temporary; or if, on the contrary, we are in the presence of a depressive trait, which indicates that the behavior associated with depression is more prevalent over time. In any case, these kinds of evaluations can only be done by a mental health professional .
My partner has depression: what do I do?
When it happens that my partner has depression, the situation is complex, you should proceed as soon as possible and in the best way. The main thing is to determine if it is specific depressive states or if the behavior is persistent, next we will see how we should proceed.
1. Do not downplay the issue, understand that it is a disease
We must avoid underestimating the emotional moment through which our partner passes. The thoughts and feelings that afflict her are not on a whim and should not be seen as personal attacks on others, however much their consequences harm third parties. These symptoms can be due to both organic and social causes.
2. Keep in mind that even if it doesn’t seem like your partner needs you
The symptoms of depression may make us seem indifferent to our partner, but this is not true. We must understand that her behavior responds to symptoms, we must not distance ourselves from it, especially when she feels vulnerable.
3. Offer active listening
In most cases, just being there for that person is very supportive. Our partner needs to vent his emotions with total freedom, we must make him feel comfortable telling us what is happening to him.
4. Don’t put pressure
Be careful with the words we use when our partner presents a depressive picture, there are phrases that can be counterproductive. It is best to propose clear activities, avoiding phrases such as “be calm” or “that has to happen to you” which may sound like a demand and a call to do nothing to feel better .
5. Put yourself in the other’s shoes
This refers to providing the greatest possible empathy, bearing in mind that the things that are easy for you to your partner can be complicated. For example, shopping or preparing a meal at home is often a challenge for those with depression, due to lack of motivation and energy.
6. Don’t blame yourself for what you suffer
As we mentioned earlier, it is not your partner’s fault to be depressed, nor is it your fault. Do not think that their behavior is due to personal reasons related to you or for which you are the responsible person. Depression is beyond the control of those who experience it directly and their close circle.
7. Avoid creating false expectations
We must bear in mind that the solution will not come overnight. It is a personal and gradual process, in which our partner must realize and face the situation at his own pace. There is no need to rush looking for easy or quick solutions, as this will only cause more frustration.
8. stay close
Let your partner see that you care about her, show her that despite her situation she can count on you and that you are there to support her, without becoming invasive or demanding. Simply support it through your understanding and company.
9. Relieves emotional tension
It tries to serve as a means for him or her to drain the pressure and tension generated by depression and family, academic or work situations that may be triggers for more intense depressive episodes. Try to lighten that burden on your partner.
10. Avoid reproaches
Don’t scold him for not wanting to get out of bed, or for his lack of appetite. Remember that you are being the victim of a symptomatology that concerns the functioning of your nervous system. It encourages change from assertiveness and not from the claim, which is counterproductive in these cases.
11. Motivate her to seek help
Without it being a requirement or an imposition, we can make our loved one be interested in seeking professional help. Explaining the benefits and telling her that therapy can help her improve are good ways to do this.
12. Congratulate you on your progress
On the occasions when your partner makes efforts to overcome depression and manages to reach his goals, no matter how small they may seem to someone who is not going through that, you have to congratulate him and show him that we also recognize that milestone.
13. Go with her to therapy
Attending therapy with our partner has an important meaning in terms of the support component that we provide. We can be part of the support team for our partner (as a new patient who is taking her first steps in terms of therapy), which includes family members, the therapist, and if necessary, also the psychiatrist.
Of course, psychological therapy must be an essential factor in the recovery process of people with depression. It is not an accessory aid, it is one of the fundamental pillars of the improvement of the mood, and a support that contributes significantly to the symptoms to stop, even the most serious ones (such as suicidal ideation).
For this reason, someone who wants to help their partner with depression, must act on two fronts: accompany that loved one at that time in their life, and help them to commit to therapy and apply the instructions of health professionals mentally concerned with monitoring treatment.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that the situation our partner with depression is going through does not have to be permanent. As the crisis came, it can go, although there are usually certain consequences (at least with regard to emotional memory).
Many times, when the person does not know what to do in a situation, it is when depression occurs. It is not enough to help her resolve this situation, it is necessary to provide her with the tools so that she has the ability to solve the situations that cause her negative feelings on her own. This is what works during therapy. But, at the same time, you should not leave that person alone, since in that state they will not be able to overcome and see a hopeful way out.
Eric Cameron is a passionate relationship coach and counselor with a focus on helping couples reconnect and build strong and lasting relationships. He has years of experience working with couples and helping them to understand the intricacies of healthy relationships. He also provides guidance on how to maintain a healthy relationship and deal with difficult topics. Eric’s approach is tailored specifically to the couple’s needs and he has a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon.