Seeing your partner battle depression isn’t easy. You want to help them and do all you can to make them feel better, but how? You worry that one wrong word might trigger them or that they’ll push your support away.
You might feel frustrated and sad, especially as you hate seeing them suffer from their mental health and wish they would get treatment. It’s totally normal to feel this way, especially if your partner has been dealing with depression for a long time. Living with mental illness brings up a host of challenges and emotions, so you’ve got to learn how to support your girlfriend in the best way possible.
Read more: Depression Treatment
In today’s blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at depression and how you can help your girlfriend during this difficult time.
A common mental health condition, depression impacts how a person feels and causes extreme emotions of sadness and hopelessness. While it’s normal to have a down day every now and then, depression is constant.
If your partner is clinically depressed, it’s vital that you understand it’s more than just about feeling ‘sad.’ Depression can sometimes occur for no reason at all, even when everything is seemingly going perfectly in their life.
Treatment is available, and the sooner your girlfriend can get the help she needs, the sooner she’ll be on her way to recovery.
In some cases, depression is easy to spot. Your girlfriend might have opened up to you, or perhaps she’s already been diagnosed. However, if she hasn’t, and you suspect she might be suffering from depression, there are a few symptoms to look out for.
These can vary from emotional and physical symptoms to psychological symptoms. Though every case is different, someone with depression might experience:
Though there’s no set cause for depression, a few factors contribute to developing the condition. It’s often thought that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, but it’s a little more complex than that.
While these imbalances can contribute, depression is usually caused by several factors rather than one set cause. Depressed people don’t choose to feel this way - a common misconception is that they can just shake it off. It’s a serious and complicated disorder that should be taken seriously.
Possible causes of depression can include:
Despite everything, there are a few things you can do to support your partner through this challenging period of their life. Showing them that you care and are actively taking steps to help them will help your girlfriend feel like she’s not in it alone.
Backed by your support and understanding, she’ll be more likely to seek treatment and take steps towards recovery.
One of the best things you can do to support your depressed partner is to educate yourself on the condition. Learn what causes it, what her triggers are, and make her aware that you know it’s not just her having a bad day or simply feeling sad.
Look up verified sources online, or better yet, go to your local doctor and ask for the facts straight up. Knowing all the little things will better help you understand your girlfriend’s depression and why she feels the things she does. It might even help shed light on some of her behaviors and what you can do to help her.
If you simply approach your girlfriend with the mindset of "I don’t understand," you could make things worse.
Dealing with depression in a relationship doesn’t have to be a significant struggle - you’ve just got to learn how to develop healthy habits together as a couple. That might mean you have to change a few of your own patterns, especially if you suffer from something like substance abuse or a mental health issue of your own.
Creating a healthy and supportive environment at home will give you and your partner’s life a little more harmony and consistency. The more healthy habits and patterns you set, the better your partner will be able to cope with their depression.
To do this, you could:
Treatment is vital to recovery, so if your partner hasn’t already, encourage her to seek help from a doctor or medical professional. Let her know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of or a sign of weakness - it’s actually a sign of improvement and one of the first steps to recovery.
People battling depression often feel guilty about the way they’re feeling, so reassure your girlfriend that you don’t feel anything different about her and that you’ll continue to support her through treatment.
If your girlfriend is already receiving help, support her by helping to collect her medication, monitoring her symptoms, and taking her to therapy or support groups.
Taking care of someone with chronic depression isn’t always easy, and while it’s important to support and help your partner, it’s just as important to focus on yourself. After all, the only way you’ll be able to be fully present in your relationship and give your girlfriend the support she needs is if you’re taking care of yourself and following your own advice.
This means developing healthy self-care habits and not burning yourself out trying to help your girlfriend. It can be easy to get sucked into a state of constantly giving, though, so it’s important you also maintain boundaries and set yourself up for success.
This means staying away from drug or alcohol abuse, getting enough sleep, and still doing things in your life that are important to you. For example, if you love swimming, make that a priority during your week. It doesn’t mean you’re being selfish with your time - it just means you’re giving yourself a bit of TLC too.
If there are moments when your stress levels are rocketing, make sure to take some time out for yourself to reflect, meditate, and relax. If you’re particularly struggling with your girlfriend’s depression, seek support. Visit support groups, listen to advice, and consider therapy. This could be a simple one-to-one session or couple’s counseling - the key is to navigate your feelings and remain open in your line of communication. A therapist will help you find ways to deal with the stress while supporting your partner in the best way you can.
It might seem super simple, but just telling your partner that you love them and support them is the best thing you can do to help them get through this tough time. It will help make your girlfriend feel like she isn’t in it alone, and knowing that someone is there to listen to her talk and offer support will go a long way in building up your relationship as a couple.
If she’s having a particularly bad day, be patient with her and try to respond in a caring and calm manner.
While it’s never something anyone wants to think about, it’s important that you know the warning signs of suicide. This will help lessen the risk of something going wrong and will ensure you’re aware of subtle changes in your girlfriend’s demeanor.
If your girlfriend displays any of the following behaviors, seek medical assistance as soon as possible:
At GIA Miami, we know just how difficult it can be to watch someone you love battling depression. We’re here to give you all the advice you need and help you and your partner navigate this challenging time.
Read more: TMS Therapy
Remember, recovery is possible - your girlfriend just needs proper care, support, and treatment to overcome depression, and we’re here to help. We provide a range of treatment options for all kinds of mental health conditions, including counseling, therapy, and medication.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health
How To Think Positive When Depressed
How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?