How To Cope When Your Partner Is Struggling With Depression

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How To Cope When Your Partner Is Struggling With Depression
Love

Truth be told, having a depressed partner is never easy.

Depression can have a devastating effect on close relationships. Sometimes, depressed people blame themselves for their pain. Sometimes, they blame their partners.

It’s baffling and painful to watch them turn into closed, cold, or accusing partners. They may be so different at times, that you question if you even know them anymore.

If you don't know what to do when your partner is depressed, you're not alone.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Save Your Marriage When Your Spouse Has Depression

Many people living with a depressed spouse have said that it's like living with a stranger.

After years of affection and intimacy, it can be confusing when your mate suddenly declares that they don’t feel loved anymore. Or worse — they share that they're not sure if they ever did.

Depressed partners can sometimes ignore other things not working in their life, focusing the blame for their low mood on your relationship. They hope that if they end the relationship, they will find happiness.

These beliefs can often cause your depressed partner to avoid seeking treatment or talking to someone they trust, as they have associated their unhappiness with being attached to the other person.

The difficulty with this is that sometimes, it's true.

Sometimes, if someone is not expressing their true self, represses parts of their personality, or feels that they're being controlled, a relationship can lead to symptoms of depression.

So, how do you work out what's real and what's not when it comes to depression and relationships?

Here 7 ways to cope when your partner is struggling with depression.

1. Don't wait.

If someone in your relationship has depression, it’s time to act — both you and your partner. Waiting increases the chances that your relationship won’t last.

According to statistics in the U.S., depressed couples are over eight times more likely to divorce, so it’s important to act soon if this applies to you.

From my experience with helping thousands of couples now, I believe that the reason the statistic is so high is that negativity kills relationships.

2. Communicate.

If one person — or both — in the marriage has a very pessimistic viewpoint and energy, it’s going to affect everything.

Issues left unaddressed eventually destroy all passion, closeness, and communication.

Many fall into the trap of trying to fight their depressed spouse and tell them that their feelings are wrong.

No one ever wants to hear that their feelings are wrong, no matter what the circumstances. Especially if they are depressed.

A depressed person becomes very attached to their feelings, so fighting will only isolate them further.

3. Pay attention to the symptoms.

When a non-depressed spouse lives with a depressed partner, they run the risk of getting depression, as well.

Depression is something many try to brush under the carpet, yet it's a killer. Depression has a high risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and can lead to suicide.

4. Don’t fall into the trap of the blame game.

Dealing with a partner’s depression can provoke frustration and resentment, especially if you find yourself making excuses for a loved one’s social absences, or if some household responsibilities aren’t being done.

Be open to new routines and ways of relating. Make sure you also look after your own needs and take care of yourself, so that you're not blaming each other.

Better to do a little bit less and not resent, than to be doing everything and feeling angry all the time.

5. Show, not tell.

Encourage your depressed spouse to talk about the way they're feeling, thinking, or acting, and listen without passing judgment.

If someone is in a really bad place, you might hear things that could freak you out.

For example, a depressed spouse might question their love for their partner or their interest in staying together. They may say that they feel alone, that they have nothing to live for, and that they regret their decisions in life.

Don't get stuck in relationship questions if one or both of you can only see all the negatives. Listen wholeheartedly and agree to leave the marriage discussion for another time.

Instead, say, "Let’s take it a day at a time," or, "Let’s not rush into anything yet." You don't want to overwhelm each other with life-altering decisions, as you cannot see things clearly with the dark cloud of depression looming.

RELATED: I Refuse To Let My Wife's Depression Ruin Our Marriage

6. Get a diagnosis together.

Dozens of health conditions can trigger the same symptoms as depression. Ask your spouse if it’s OK for you to attend this evaluation.

In most cases, when your partner is down that low, they may not be able to express what’s going on.

The illness might prevent a depressed person from recognizing that they need help or seeking it out. So, it’s often the non-depressed spouse who expresses concern and suggests an action plan.

The symptoms of depression and symptoms of the natural process of grief and loss are very similar.

Many people believe they have depression, when in reality they may be experiencing grief — from loss of a loved one, loss of a job, financial loss, health loss, loss of trust, loss of faith, and even losses of giving up harmful habits like alcohol, an affair partner, or overeating.

7. Be patient with the treatment process.

If your depressed spouse decided to take the medication route, be patient with the process.

Whilst talking it through can lighten someone’s load quickly, medical intervention and medication for depression can involve testing. This trial-and-error approach of depression drugs may make things worse for a period of time.

Patience is important in any relationship, and when dealing with a partner who is depressed it is a must. The good news is that depression can be lifted with the right support.

Here are 3 triggers of depression to watch for.

1. Transitions.

Transitions are hard for anybody. These can include graduations, getting a new job, moving, getting married, having a baby, or retirement.

2. Losses.

Losses are a major cause of feeling depressed. The death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of friendship, or other major changes bring grief.

With losses, it's often easier to identify what is creating the depressed mood.

3. Conflict in relationships. 

Is your loved one having problems with people at work? With friends? With parents or in-laws? Or with any of your children? What about with you?

Unresolved relationship problems often trigger a depressive episode.

Depression is a struggle, and the depressed partner may feel utterly overwhelmed and incapable of regulating themselves.

They’re often consumed with their struggles and are apprehensive of any additional demands being placed upon them.

This is when if they feel relationship pressure, they may suggest ending it rather than dealing with it. Everything to them can seem like a huge weight on their shoulders.

Here are 2 essential things to remember when dealing with a depressed partner.

1. Always show compassion.

Because the depressed partner does not want to feel depressed.

2. Do not neglect yourself.

Set healthy boundaries for yourself, and make sure you get time to relax and unwind when things get tough. There's hope and help available.

RELATED: 10 Struggles Of Being Married To Someone With Depression

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Nicola Beer is a marriage-transformation specialist and founder of the Save My Marriage Program. To book one of her free ultimate connector consultations, e-mail her or read the 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage, get your Free Report, visit her website.

This article was originally published at nicolabeer.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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