So, you’re in a relationship with someone who regularly gets low moods and maybe even depressed. It stands to reason his or her mood state will affect both of you, but in different ways.
Your low mood or depressed partner will have their personal battles and demons to fight but this article is about you. Here are my top 10 tips for learning to cope with these moods in your relationship.
Keep the faith
It can be an unsettling and trying time giving support to a partner with low moods, but depression is in a different league. Depression is a complex condition and while there are many common signs and symptoms every person responds differently. Don’t get confused. You are stronger and more able to cope than you think.
This is my first tip. Have faith in yourself, your relationship and your future. Low moods and depression do pass, so it’s good to know there is hope.
Depression is an isolating illness. The person who is depressed looks inwards and, as much as they need you, they may also push you away. As much as you can, try to keep your relationship alive by doing simple things together.
There’s a person behind the illness
Don’t lose sight of the things you love about your partner. They may still respond to matters of interest, humor, shared moments from the past and so on. Confidence is at rock bottom during depression, so if you normally ask their advice or opinion about issues continue to do so. These small things help people to feel needed.
They say we always hurt the one’s we love. It’s a truism that could have been written for depression. Sometimes people with depression can be hurtful in the things they say or do. Sometimes the problem is more about what they don’t say or do. Either way, try not to take things personally.
Knowledge is power
The more you learn about depression and the treatment options, the more insightful and less confused you’ll become. Knowledge may help you to move past guilt, or blame, or anger.
There’s a lot of stuff available on the topic and it may seem overwhelming at first. Work at your own pace. Try to grasp the essentials but don’t lose sight of your own feelings and insights into your partner.
This will make more sense the more you learn about depression. For now it’s important to note you can’t cure their depression and neither can you speed it on or find ways to short cut its progression.
It’s often hard to pinpoint exactly when depression starts. As a rule of thumb, mild to moderate depression will start to improve after about three months, without treatment. Things ‘may’ improve with treatment and professional treatment can be both helpful and reassuring – so use what’s available.
This may sound the most natural and obvious thing to do but it’s surprising how many people don’t. Depression carries less of a stigma these days but it can still be difficult for people to open up and share their feelings. Partly this is due to the fact their partner is embarrassed or ashamed.
Find someone you trust – a professional if you feel that’s easier – and get things off your chest.
You may very well find that as depression deepens your partner will want to do less and less. It can mean that your own life becomes more confined and restricted. As much as you can, stick to your routines.
- If you normally meet a friend on a certain day, keep it up.
- If you work, stay at work.
- If you have a hobby, keep doing it.
You may have to make certain adaptations but life, your life, must continue.
Look to yourself
It can be a taxing time and your support is only as good as your own health allows. If you’re not well yourself or you are feeling that you’re not coping then seek help.
Offer support within your limitations
This is something you’ll have to judge for yourself. There may come a point when you feel you can’t cope, or you feel your own health starting to suffer.
Giving care or support comes more easily to some people so don’t feel you are a failure if you’re struggling.