Millions of people experience depression, and it also affects those closest to them. Recent data shows that more than 16 million adults in the United States have depression at some point in their lives. That can have a big impact on our most intimate relationships.
You know how hard it can be when your partner or spouse is depressed. Depression is more than just feeling hopeless and sad. People with depression also often feel helpless, guilty, and impatient with others. You can sense your partner's turmoil, and all and want to do is help. It is truly heart-wrenching. Depression can be like a relentless storm cloud. It can cast darkness over your shared moments. Yet, as a supportive partner, your presence can make a world of difference.
It can be hard to know how to support a partner dealing with depression. You cannot cure their depression. However, you can provide support on their journey to healing.
Balanced Support Strategies
Here are some strategies to help you provide the right kind of support without overwhelming yourself:
- Encourage Getting Help: Gently suggest that your partner seeks professional help or counseling. Reassure them that reaching out to a mental health expert is a positive step toward feeling better.
- Be a Listening Ear: Sometimes, the most valuable support you can offer is being there to listen. Create a safe, non-judgmental space. Allow your partner to express their feelings and thoughts.
- Share Enjoyable Activities: Do fun things together that you both like. Take relaxing walks or eat out with friends. Going out and being active can improve their mood.
- Clear Communication: Communicate with kindness. Try the IDEA model (Identify, Discuss, Explore, and Agree – read more here). This helps you both express your feelings and needs clearly. You can work together when dealing with problems.
Take Care of Your Own Well-being
- Manage Stress: Helping a partner who is depressed can be tiring for your mind. Make time to handle your own stress. Try relaxing activities, being mindful, or doing hobbies you like.
- Self-Care: Prioritize your well-being. Maintain healthy habits. Try to exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Make healthy meals. It’s essential to be in good shape to provide strong support.
- Problem-Solve: Collaborate with your partner. Try to fix real issues that may be making their depression worse. Work together to find solutions and make necessary changes.
Remember, your main role is to give your partner love, understanding, and support. While these tips can help, it's very important to respect your partner's needs and limits. Get professional help if needed. Together, you can support them in finding hope and healing.