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4 min read

How Can I Support My Partner With Depression?

A woman with depression

As the partner of someone who is experiencing depression, you can be a huge support for their mental health and well-being. Many of us, however, are unsure of where to start. If you find yourself wondering what to do if my partner is depressed, read on to find out how to recognize signs of depression and strategies for supporting them while protecting your own health and wellness.

Recognizing Signs of Depression in Your Loved One

Depression can look different depending on the person. While only mental healthcare professionals can diagnose depression, there are some signs that you can look for if you suspect that your partner is depressed. Some common signs of major depressive disorder include:

  • A low mood
  • Loss of interest in things that your partner previously enjoyed
  • They feel hopeless
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal
  • Crying
  • Sleeping more than usual or not getting enough sleep
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Suicidal thoughts

How Depression Can Affect Relationships

A depressed spouse or partner can create a cycle of negative feelings. If they withdraw or snap at you, it's natural to feel hurt, and pull away from them. In return, the depressed partner will feel more alienated and sad, and will respond in kind.

It's important to remember that when a person is depressed, their behavior is not aimed at you - it's simply the depression being depression. When you recognize depression, it can make a big difference to take the personal out of it, and realize that it is something that it will pass with the right treatment.

How Can I Help My Partner Through Depression?

One challenge that a partner can face when trying to support someone with depression is that they may deny that there is a problem or believe that they can manage depression on their own. Often, someone experiencing mental health challenges like depression doesn't believe that there is anything to fit -.that this is just how they are. But there are some actions you can take to help steer them in the right direction.

Offer Support

First and foremost, let the depressed person know that you are there for them. They may be feeling hopeless and alone, and knowing that they have someone who cares can go a long way.

Learn about what they're going through.

An excellent way to feel empowered to support someone living with depression is to understand the ins and outs of clinical depression. One partner may turn to alcohol abuse as a maladaptive coping mechanism for their severe depression, while another may withdraw from relationships. Recognizing signs of depression can be a first step in finding help.

Be an Active Listener

It can sometimes be tempting to advise someone who is struggling, rather than to simply listen. However, active listening may be just what they need. Use body language and words to affirm them, and to show them that you hear what they're saying. You don't need to agree with them if they are using negative language about themselves, but tell them that you are hearing them and reiterate that you love them and are there for them.

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide

If you have a spouse with severe depression, it can be important to recognize the signs of suicidal ideation. If you notice your spouse:

  • Talking about feeling like a burden
  • Feeling guilt or shame
  • Saying that they feel hopeless or that they have no reason to live
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Taking dangerous risks
  • Giving away items, saying goodbye to people
  • Researching ways to die

Get them help as soon as possible. Visit the suicide and crisis lifeline website, call or text 988, or chat at 988.lifeline.org.

Understanding the Perspective of Your Depressed Partner

If you've done some research on depression, you may be able to better understand why your depressed spouse or partner acts the way they do. Try to see their actions through the lens of their condition, rather than as actions against you personally.

Try Not to Take Your Partner's Depression Personally

It's easy to feel rejected by your depressed partner. When they are struggling, a low mood and withdrawal are common symptoms. However, realize that this is not personal, and that they are having a difficult time feeling good about anything. This behavior is not permanent and therapy can help them gain energy and feel healthy again.

Create a Supportive Environment in the Home

People with depression often feel lethargic and hopeless. Be their support network by offering affection and positivity in their lives. Ask them to go on a walk with you (this gets them outside and gets them moving—two things that can help improve symptoms), encourage them to join you in fun activities, even if they don't respond immediately.

Practice Self-Care

One of the most important things you can do during this time is protect your own mental health. Depression affects more than just the depressed spouse, it can also cause frustration in the partner or other close family members of people with depression. Make sure that you feel supported during this time--spend time with other friends and family, participate in your own interests, and take time off for yourself.

Encourage Your Partner to Seek Treatment

A mental health professional can offer effective treatment for your partner's depression, and though they may not want to seek therapy, you can help by encouraging them over time. See if they are more open to support groups, and share evidence for what professional help can offer for symptoms. Sometimes it can take a while to realize that what they're feeling is not "normal", or to move past any ingrained stigma they may have toward depression or professional support for mental health.

Support for Depression in Brooklyn

When your partner is feeling depressed, a mental health professional can help them get their feelings back on track. People with depression may have difficulty seeing this, but a caring partner can clear the path.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, our team of doctoral-level Brooklyn depression psychotherapists offers both online and in-person appointments to accommodate both spouses, to support depression treatment as well as the partner who may need help maintaining self-care and well-being.

Give us a call today, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist to share the tools required to manage depressive symptoms, recommend lifestyle changes, and offer additional support like finding a support group or helping with medication management. Family therapy can also help improve communication and get your relationship and health back on track.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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