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How To Help Your Partner With Depression

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How To Help Your Partner With Depression

Published: February 9, 2022

Supporting a partner with depression can be challenging, especially as it can strain relationships and leave you feeling frustrated, worried, or helpless.

If your partner experiences depression, you are not alone. Over 16 million people in the United States live with depression, and there is plenty of help and support available. This blog explores a few things you can do to support your partner and care for yourself and your family.

Find help: Depression Treatment Miami, FL

What Is Depression and What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Depression is a mental illness that causes a person to feel down or lose interest in activities they enjoy for a prolonged length of time. It's normal to have a depressed mood sometimes, but when it lasts for a long time or interferes with daily life, it can become a severe mental health issue.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, with an estimated 5% of adults experiencing depression worldwide. Major depression can manifest in a wide variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Feeling anxious or sad all the time
  • Not wanting to participate in activities
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Agitation
  • Anger outbursts
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Persistent anger
  • Self-harm
  • Thinking about suicide

Depression can be a life-threatening mental health condition, but help is available. Recognizing the signs of depression is the first step in accessing treatment and beginning the journey to mental wellness.

How Can You Talk to Your Partner About Their Depression?

If your partner is living with depression, it can be helpful to understand the severity of their condition and how their symptoms affect their life. You may like to ask them questions including:

  • Do you want to talk to me about how you are feeling?
  • How are your energy levels?
  • What activities do you enjoy at the moment?
  • How are you sleeping?
  • Are you eating more or less than usual?
  • Are you able to concentrate on things?
  • Do you think about suicide or self-harm?

It's important to avoid trivializing depression. You should also avoid making your partner feel bad about their depression or like they are to blame for their condition.

How Can You Support a Depressed Partner?

If your partner lives with major depressive disorder or shows signs of depression, you may wonder how best to support them.

As the support of family members and other loved ones can play an essential role in the treatment and recovery of a mental illness, if you are supporting a partner with depression, you may like to:

Educate Yourself About Depression

Learning about depression can help you understand how best to support your partner and recognize symptoms of the condition. Many resources are available on the internet - the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides helpful information about depression and anxiety here.

You could also talk to a mental health professional for expert advice and information.

Understand Their Experience

If your partner is struggling with depression, it's essential to validate their feelings. It can help to reflect what they are saying back to them to show them that you are listening and understand what they are going through.

While it is natural to want to cheer your partner up, it's not helpful to constantly try and make your partner feel better or tell them that tomorrow will be easier. Doing so trivializes their condition - they may feel like you do not understand their experience or that you are invalidating their feelings.

Related: TMS for Depression Treatment

Encourage Them to Seek Treatment

Encouraging treatment is one of the most beneficial things you can do to support someone with depression. People living with depression often lose motivation or feel ashamed of their condition, so they commonly resist professional support. However, depression is a serious mental health condition, and most people require treatment as part of the recovery process.

To encourage treatment, you could try the following:

  • Share your thoughts with your partner.
  • Let your partner know you want to help.
  • Discuss what treatment options are available and where they could find a healthcare professional.
  • If they ask you to, make them an appointment - they may also like you to accompany them there and/or sit with them in the waiting room.

Practice Self-Care

Supporting a partner's depression can be tiring, difficult, and frustrating. For this reason, it's important to look after your own mental health too.

Research has found that people living with a depressed partner are more likely to develop depression themselves, particularly if they are a woman. Remember that you are also essential and need to be well to provide support to others.

Examples of self-care practices include:

  • Cooking healthy meals
  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Following normal daily routines
  • Engaging in activities or hobbies you enjoy
  • Spending time with other people

If you are supporting someone with depression, don't be afraid to reach out for support yourself. You may also like to attend support groups for family members of people living with depression or visit a mental healthcare professional to support you through the process.

Look Out for Signs of Suicide

In severe cases, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, ideations, and suicide attempts. If you are worried that your partner is at risk of attempting suicide, you should seek immediate medical assistance.

Some warning signs of suicide to look out for are:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Talking about death
  • Preparing a suicide plan, e.g., collecting pills
  • Preparing for their death, such as making a will
  • Saying goodbye to loved ones
  • Social withdrawal
  • Behaving recklessly or taking risks

Suicide Prevention

If you think your partner is at immediate risk of suicide or causing harm to themselves or others, there are many things you do can do. These include:

  • Ask your partner if they are thinking about suicide
  • Listen to them without judgment
  • Call 911 or a local emergency number
  • Text TALK to 741741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor
  • Stay with your partner until support arrives
  • Remove potentially harmful objects such as guns or pills from your home

If you are thinking about suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. The line is open 24 hours a day.

Depression and Drug or Alcohol Abuse

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 50% of people with a substance use disorder also live with a co-occurring disorder like anxiety or depression. Depression can be a driving factor behind drug or alcohol abuse, which in turn can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

Many people use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for dealing with emotional distress. However, in the long run, substance abuse only makes depression worse.

If you think your partner has a substance use disorder or a problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol, substance abuse treatment can help. Rehabilitation and mental wellness centers offer dual diagnosis programs that treat underlying mental health conditions simultaneously as addiction to promote holistic and long-lasting mental well-being.

Contact Us Today

At GIA Miami, we offer bespoke and innovative mental wellness treatments tailored to each client's needs. If your partner is struggling with depression or you are worried about your partner's symptoms, pick up the phone today.

Our specialist team can offer compassionate and expert advice on how you can support your partner and look after yourself. They may also explore what treatment is available and what steps you can take with you. All calls are entirely confidential.

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