There is no right time to tell someone you’ve been diagnosed with major depression, but . . .
You’ve been dating someone for a while and really look forward to being in their company. It keeps going through your mind, and heart, that you want to spend more time with this person; maybe there is something long-term brewing. Is now a good time to tell them you have a depressive disorder and take medication? Should you have already said something?
There is no right time to tell someone you’ve been diagnosed with major depression, but you don’t want to do it after making a commitment. It's not the kind of information you deliver to a partner by saying, “Oh, by the way . . .” Waiting too long says two things. First, it indicates you did not trust him or her to be understanding. Second, it indicates you think the mood disorder will be harmful to the relationship, even if you don’t believe that.
Twice I have revealed my depression on a first date. Both times I was lukewarm about seeing the person a second time. Neither date seemed fazed by the information. One of the two made a sarcastic remark about antidepressants being a placebo. My viewpoint is, I don’t care how the medication helps me it just does, but I didn’t see him again. The other date said, “Oh.”
I am not ashamed of having chronic depression and popping pills for it. The difficulty in telling someone you like is the stigma involved in having any mental health problem. Even people you normally mesh with can have judgmental views on medication and depression, or even be antagonistic. Yet, confessing depression is just one of the many risks that must be taken when you want a relationship to work out.
The presence of depression in a partnership of any kind has an effect, like any other illness would. If you are using medication as prescribed and are generally taking good care of yourself, the effect is minimal (though there is the possibility of a flare up). If you have not learned to manage your symptoms (with or without meds) your depressive tendencies will have a daily impact on the relationship.
My marriage lasted seven years. I found out I had symptoms of major depression after the divorce. I had been good at masking what I thought was a chronic bad mood. The divorce was not a result of my mood issues. There were many factors that sent our wedded bliss down the tube. I believe that some communication skills I lacked aggravated my symptoms, and was one of the primary factors.
A therapist helped me with communication skills and challenged my negative beliefs about myself. I made mindfulness a daily practice, took up yoga and went back to school for a master’s degree. Although technically I still have depression, it is not something I think about, except when taking the medication. I can honestly tell a new friend that the depression is a minor aspect of my life 95.99% of the time.
So, after a few dates (5-6) and if I am still feeling interested in someone, I tell them. If my disorder turns someone off, I would rather it happens sooner than later. I say something like, “I love spending time with you but before we go any further I want you to know . . .” Once the person is informed, the revelation is out of the way, off my mind, and they know antidepressants are part of this package.