Guest Feature Written By Paul James
Mental illness is a hard conversation to have with those around us, even when it’s with our significant other. People tend to hold tightly onto the most fragile aspects of their lives. I have learned this from being in a relationship with my girlfriend who struggles with depression.
My Personal Experience
I started noticing the signs of depression in my girlfriend about two years into our relationship; she was no longer as social as she used to be and spent more time alone in bed. Our conversations did not feel as genuine, and it was as if she was hiding something.
I struggled with depression a few years prior, and from my personal experience, I understood what she was going through, and more importantly, knew she was hiding her pain from me.
Being society’s severe stigma of mental illness, most people who struggle with it don’t say a word. The fear of being judged by others causes them to keep to themselves, and inevitably, they suffer further due to feelings of solitude.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in this position. Does your partner appear sadder or hopeless more often? Have you been wondering how you can help lift their mood? The following post is for relationships where depression has become a significant factor. Here are six ways to help your partner confront depression.
1. Do Your Research
There is more to depression than what meets the surface. Though feelings of sadness may be noticeable, we can’t forget how complex the brain can be. Therefore, the more research you do, the better understanding you’ll have of mental illness.
Depression isn’t a consistent mood; those with the illness will have both good and bad days. The intervals of the good and bad vary on the individuals. It’s important to talk to your partner to understand how he/she experiences this mental succession.
The following are symptoms most commonly associated with the illness:
● Feelings of sadness and hopelessness that may result in tearful moments
● An appetite change that causes an individual to lose or gain weight
● The inability to sleep or sleeping for too much time
● Loss of enjoyment in prior interests
● Tendencies of anxiety
● Infuriated outbursts
● The failure to feel self-worth
● Feelings of guilt (possibly due to one’s past)
● A hard time concentrating and making decisions
● Suicidal thoughts
Communicate with your partner about the way they experience depression. Go to a medical professional if desired, however, building trust in your relationship and discussing the matter will prove much more effective.
2. Stay By Their Side
You don’t need to be a psychologist to help someone battling depression. You need to be the person they can turn to. There are people out there who will try to go above and beyond by seeking the best treatment or finding the most active support group. However, what matters most is if you’re willing to stay by their side. No matter what.
Depression makes a person feel isolated. Listening to what’s on your partner’s mind can make a huge difference. It gives you a better outlook on their situation.
As your loved one continues to open up about their depression, make sure to offer encouraging responses, such as, “We are in this together.”
3. Encourage Professional Help
People with depression often believe they must endure their symptoms, even when it’s affecting significant areas of their lives; school, work, family, friends, or significant others. Some people may deny their mental illness even when the symptoms are present. They believe that at some point it will pass. This kind of mindset persuades your loved one to think they brought these dark feelings upon themselves.
You play an essential role in your partner receiving the help they need and deserve. Expressing your concern, discussing research and offering support will motivate them to seek treatment.
4. Create a Purpose, Not an Expectation
When you do not live with a mental illness, it is difficult to comprehend how overwhelming depression can be. A task as small as taking a walk down the street can feel arduous and unnecessary.
Develop Small Goals
These can be little steps such as getting out of bed earlier. Or they can be more significant steps such as applying for a job. If you’re looking into a more significant step, it’s best to create multiple small goals. In the example of the job, achievement can be updating a resume or researching job ads.
It’s important to note that these should be expectations. Depression has a mind of its own. Each small goal you make isn’t a given. What matters is showing your support by sticking by their side regardless of whether they make goals or not. And if they do, don’t be afraid to celebrate their accomplishments.
5. Make Your Home Feel Like a Home
As your partner’s support system, there’s a lot you can do on a daily basis that will encourage change. Though you don’t have control over their emotion, you can influence their environment.
While your significant other is going through the process of treatment, there are lifestyle changes to be considered. Healthy habits and environment can make a huge difference for someone in the midsts of depression.
However, understand, it might be difficult for your loved on to take these changes on immediately. They go hand-in-hand with the small goals mentioned above.
Here are some examples to consider:
An exercise routine can prove beneficial as working out tends to boost one’s mood. Discover ways in which you can exercise together. Do not be afraid to consider other daily routines. Any of which will not cause stress to your partner. A schedule helps individuals feel more in control of their own lives.
Encourage a healthier diet. It may not be a necessity, but it can play a factor in your partner’s mood. Plan and cook meals which is another another activity for you to do together. With your support, your partner might find the motivation do the things they used to love. Through this, you should also encourage social interactions.
Make sure your partner’s treatment holds prominence. Some depressed individuals become discouraged by the way treatment works. There are ways you can encourage going to their scheduled appointments, such as driving together and waiting for sessions to take place.
6. Be Aware of Suicidal Thoughts
The unfortunate truth is suicidal thoughts are more present when someone is experiencing depression. Though treatment will likely lower that risk, you can never be too careful when it comes to such a topic.
Do your research and be aware of the symptoms of suicide which can be found here.
Handling someone with depression is never easy. It shows your true character and care for your loved one. While you go through this experience, it’s important to take care of yourself, likewise. Be the favorable light they wish to see. When people are facing depression, negativity has a way of creeping itself into one’s life. When it comes to all you can do to make your partner more comfortable, it’s important you keep a positive outlook through it all.
About the Author of 6 Ways to Help Your Partner Struggling with Depression
Paul James is a mental health and addiction writer. He’s spent the last year and a half spreading awareness and knowledge in hopes of ending the stigmas attached to these topics. You can find more on his blog. Follow Paul on Instagram @pauljameswriting & on Twitter @pauljameswrite
For more mental health content, follow me @hannahdblum