7 Ways to Avoid Losing Yourself When Dating Someone Suffering From Depression

Depression is a difficult situation, but it is entirely possible, as you may occasionally fail to recognize your partner. To comprehend what will occur, let us first define Depression. Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical condition that affects your feelings, thoughts, and actions. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes sadness and/or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. It can cause a variety of emotional and physical problems, as well as a decrease in your ability to function at work and at home. Perhaps you recognized this earlier and noted that it is only one aspect of their complex identity and chose to focus on other characteristics such as their artistic talent, sense of humor, intelligence, or integrity. That’s great because it means you can see them as a whole person rather than just their mental health. Nonetheless, your relationship may face unique challenges that you have not encountered in other relationships.

It’s difficult to watch your partner struggle under the weight of their distress, and it’s natural to want to assist them in finding relief. Before you can help, you must accept one important fact: It is not possible to completely cure their depression or “make them better,” and attempting to do so will leave you exhausted and unhappy. It’s critical to always seek the assistance of trained professionals, as this will help you understand how to deal with it better. In the meantime, you can show compassion and provide healthy support in a variety of ways.

Find out more about depression.

Knowledge has power, and someone has already asked me how knowledge gives you power. Let me calm you down a little. With all of the myths about depression floating around social media, and even if someone is lonely, they will label it depression, it is critical to be able to distinguish between myths and authentic information; that is where the power lies. Learning to tell the difference between myth and reality can make a big difference in how you show up for your partner.

Some people describe depression as a blanket of nothingness or a heavy fog. Others describe it as drowning. Many people are so overcome by boredom, apathy, and hopelessness that they find it difficult to remember more positive states.

Good vibes and happy thoughts will not dispel these feelings, just as imagining yourself free of congestion will not cure a cold. When you have a better understanding of how depression affects your partner, you can provide better support. Doing some research is a great way to broaden your knowledge without burdening your partner with education. Because depression affects people differently, once you have a handle on the basic facts, ask about their experience.

“Could you please tell me how you’re feeling today?” ” Actively listen to what they have to say, providing empathy and validation rather than advice.” Do not be afraid to ask if they have considered suicide. Some people are afraid to tell loved ones about suicidal thoughts. You’re showing them that they can be honest by asking. If they aren’t thinking about suicide, they aren’t going to start just because you brought it up.

Try to encourage instead of giving advice.

It’s not that your advice is wrong or anything, but not everyone is good at crafting words that don’t make others act worse. Many people benefit from treatment, so you might think it’s best to encourage them to see a therapist. However, statements such as “You should go to therapy” or “You need help” may make them feel even worse.

The thing about depression is that it can make even simple tasks appear impossible. A quick internet search may appear simple to you, but someone in a depression fog may feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Instead, try, “Have you considered talking to someone?” If they appear open to the idea, make the process less intimidating by offering to help them find a therapist, schedule an appointment, and accompany them to their first (or first few) sessions.

If they’re already in therapy, keep in mind that treatment takes time and that not all approaches work for everyone. It’s fine to inquire about how things are going, but avoid pressuring them to try new approaches.

Pushing for lifestyle changes is also ineffective. Avoid using the phrase:

  • “You should exercise more.”
  • “Going outside to get some sun will make you feel better.”
  • “If you ate healthier foods, your mood would improve.”

Sunlight and exercise can be beneficial, but they are not magical cures. Your advice, no matter how well-intended, may give your partner the impression that you don’t understand what they’re going through.

Instead, encourage them to do something with you: 

  • “I’m feeling a little restless. Let’s go for a walk together.”
  • “The weather is great today! Why don’t we eat lunch outside?”

 

Recognize that things may not always go as planned.

Depression can make it difficult to do even the things you want to do, and your partner may not always be willing to follow through on plans. It’s natural to be disappointed when they spend your much-anticipated vacation scrolling through their phone while you enjoy the sights.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that they’ve lost interest in things you used to do together, such as discussing your day, cooking meals, or having sex. You may feel rejected and begin to believe they are uninterested in you.

Anhedonia, or disinterest, is a common symptom of depression. Treatment can help them regain their interest and energy, but in the meantime, show compassion rather than criticism by validating their feelings.

  • Instead of: “You never want to spend time with me anymore.”
  • Try: “I’m sorry you can’t make it to the movies tonight. I understand you don’t have the energy when you feel so low. How would you feel about ordering some takeout and watching a movie at home?”

Even if you’re curious what your friends think when you show up to hangouts alone, don’t say anything that your partner hasn’t authorized you to say. A simple “They couldn’t make it” might not pique anyone’s interest — but that’s beside the point. What matters is that you respect their trust in you.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to stay at home unless you want to keep them company when they need it. Otherwise, sticking to your original plans can help you avoid frustration and resentment, so it’s often a better mental health choice.

Depression is frequently exacerbated by cognitive distortions and negative thinking patterns. Your companion may say things like : 

  • “I can’t do anything right.”
  • “I could disappear right now and no one would care.”
  • “I must be so boring. I can’t imagine why you want to spend time with me.”
  • “I’ll never get better.”

It’s understandable that you’d want to reassure them right away that these beliefs are completely false. But you can’t talk someone out of depression, so this can backfire spectacularly. Perhaps they insist you’re only trying to make them feel better, or they may shut down and stop telling you how they feel.

Rather than trying to refute negative thoughts, try validating them without agreeing. Then, gently draw their attention to their positive qualities and strengths.

  • “I know you feel discouraged because therapy hasn’t helped immediately. You’re putting in a lot of effort toward feeling better, though, and I really admire your determination.” 
  • “I get that depression makes you feel pretty alone, but I’m here to keep you company.”
  • “I understand you haven’t felt like yourself lately, but you’re still you, and I’m here to support you through this.” 

Make time for yourself when you need it.

It’s natural to want to assist and do whatever you can to make things easier for them. But if you ignore your own basic needs, you won’t have much to offer. Everyone needs time for self-care, but taking care of yourself becomes even more important when caring for a loved one. You will become overwhelmed and resentful if you prioritize their needs over your own.

Burnout can result from exhaustion and stress. You may even begin to exhibit symptoms of depression.   To maintain mental health, good self-care practices are key. 

  • Set aside enough time for a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat regular, balanced meals.
  • Make time for physical activity.
  • Take alone time when you need it.
  • Enjoy your hobbies.
  • Build emotional awareness through meditation, journaling, or art.
  • Relax with friends and family.

Set and stick to boundaries.

Healthy boundaries lead to happier relationships. Setting limits around specific behaviors that don’t work for you is what boundaries are all about. Boundaries protect physical and emotional needs, so respecting them is beneficial. It does not make you self-centered or uncaring.

Perhaps your partner frequently cancels plans when they are depressed, which you completely understand. The difficulty is that they want you to skip out as well. You set a limit by telling them that unless there is an emergency, you will stick to your plans.

As you’re about to leave for a hike with friends, they text to say, “Sorry, I won’t be able to make it.” Could you please come over instead?” “I need to get moving for a while!” you say, sticking to your boundary. “Perhaps tomorrow?”

People suffering from depression may lash out and say hurtful things. You know they don’t mean them, but you can protect yourself by drawing a line around unkind or derogatory language. “It appears that you’re pretty angry right now,” you say the next time they have an outburst. I’ve asked you not to yell at me, so I’m leaving. We can talk when you’re more relaxed.”

Seek assistance from others.

A partner coping with depression may lack the emotional capacity to support you as they normally would. Friendships outside of your romantic relationship become even more valuable when your partner suffers from depression.

Isolating yourself and struggling to manage emotional turmoil can result from suppressing emotions, but trusted friends and family can listen and offer support. Their compassion and validation can help you meet some of your needs and improve your overall well-being.

If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your partner’s mental health with anyone you know, support groups can be a good option.

It’s also worth thinking about seeing a therapist on your own. Dating someone who is depressed isn’t always easy, but it never hurts to try.

 

Conclusively

Most people would agree that loving someone entails accepting them exactly as they are. Acceptance is even more important when your partner suffers from depression. Acceptance can be demonstrated by simply listening to and validating their distress, but it’s normal to require a little extra help when it comes to nurturing your relationship. A couple’s counselor can assist you in strengthening your relationship so that you can stand stronger together.  

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