Living with a depressed partner can take its toll on any relationship, and finding yourself in the caretaker role can be both frustrating and confusing. Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Engagement Coach, discusses the different kinds of depression and how to best help your partner when depression strikes.
What Is Depression?
When people think of "depression", most think that being depressed is synonymous with being crazy. And, let's face it . . . no one wants to be labeled as crazy! Unfortunately, what most don't realize, is that depression comes in many forms, and can range from very mild and ongoing (Dysthymia), to very situational and severe (Major Depression or Clinical Depression). Both types of depression typically involve the following symptoms: sadness, trouble concentrating and/or reaching goals, social withdrawal or isolation, irritability, negativity, issues with eating and/or sleeping, etc.
How Depression Affects A Relationship
The non-depressed partner can be just as affected as the depressed partner. When depression is present in a relationship, there is typically strain on communication, the couple's sex life, their social life, and their emotional connection. Often times, the non-depressed partner can start to feel symptoms of depression as well.
What To Do If You're Living With A Depressed Partner
1. Remember that your partner is dealing with an illness, and they're not doing this on purpose to hurt you or your relationship.
2. Diagnosed depression is a chronic illness, just like heart disease, diabetes or back pain. It's important to view your partner's depression in a less negative light so you can try to understand that it's not their fault.
3. Get your own support. (Even if your partner isn't seeking help!) A therapist can help you better understand what your partner is going through, and teach you how to deal with your own concerns and let-downs as a result of living with your depressed mate.
4. Inform yourself about depression and get a good understanding of what you're dealing with at home.
5. Gently encourage your partner to seek professional help, but do not expect them to just "snap out of it". There is no magic cure for dealing with depression, but it can get better with the right professional help customized to each person.
6. Try to be supportive without being demanding or angry. Trying to help your partner will get frustrating at times, but gently encouraging them to take a short walk, or watch a funny movie, may get things moving in the right direction.
For more information on Adrienne's counseling services and free relationship tips, please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com