How To Love Your Depressed Partner
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Depression is a real illness and your partner needs you as much as they would need to be cared for if they had the flu. By helping your partner through a very difficult and painful affliction, you are actually strengthening your relationship and their mental health in the long term.
But caring for them is not an easy task because one day they may seem fine, and the next they are sad, distant and may push you away. It is important that you know that as a person who is close to them and trusted by them, you can help your partner have shorter, less severe stints of depression.
What To Do With A Depressed Partner
When your partner falls downward into depression, begin caring for them by giving them (and yourself) the gift of a calm environment. Depressed people commonly feel like they are slowing down while the rest of the world around them speeds up. They begin to feel more and more overwhelmed by their daily routine and feel unable to keep up, so their mail may end up in stacks, dishes can pile up in the sink, and laundry may go undone. Help them to avoid this chaos and disorder by offering your partner some extra help sorting mail, washing dishes or laundry, and try to keep overall bedlam in check in general.
Help your partner keep their body strong by cooking healthy meals for them. Your partner may do one of two things when they are suffering from depression. One, they may eat too little, or two, they may eat too much. Either way, they may find that driving through a fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza online is easier than fixing a meal. But eating like this, or neglecting to eat, will only deteriorate your partner’s health causing them to go deeper into their depression. But, by helping them eat to get their body healthy, you are also helping them set a path for their mind to follow.
The benefits of going outdoors for a person suffering from depression are enormous - so get your partner outside even though it might be the last thing on earth that your partner will want to do. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate their depression and take a leisurely walk, because exercise is also an effective mood booster.
Isolation vs. Socialization
The desire to be isolated is common feeling for a depression sufferer, so anything that fights that desire can help take the edge off the severity and length of their depression. Speak with your partner and ask them to help you understand what their feeling, because if your partner is able to articulate what they are going through, it will help them and you better understand what you are dealing with. It may also provide awareness towards a plan of action for helping your partner.
Give your partner the permission that they won’t normally give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving, such as permission to enjoy a hot bath. Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves, so encourage them to make their self-care a priority. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist all seem too hard, and they may believe that they don’t deserve to be well cared for anyway. This can escalate quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness, so help them stay proactive.
Studies show that a sincere hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release endorphins in the brain and elevate the mood of both the giver and receiver. Often depressed people don’t want to be touched, but a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give your partner a mood boost. So hug your partner!
Laughing also releases endorphins and studies show it can actually offset symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, laugh with your partner by telling a silly joke, watching a comedy or seeing a stand up comedian. This may encourage your partner to laugh in spite of themselves.
Affirmation of Commitment
Reassure your partner that you are in the relationship for the long haul and they won’t scare you away just because they have an affliction. Your partner may feel worthless, angry and even guilty while they are depressed, which may lead them to worry that they will end up alone because you will not tolerate their episodes forever. So, reassure your partner that you can handle their feelings.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Challenge your partner's negative destructive thoughts with positive truths. Remind them why you love them and mention things they've accomplished. Reminisce over pictures of happy times you’ve had together and tell them your favorite things about them. Talk about your relationship and all the positive things that have happened. Remind your partner that you love them and that you will get through this period together.
- Jeff Stein
10 Ways to Show Love to Someone With Depression - The Darling Bakers. (2014, February 14). Retrieved January 14, 2015, from http://www.thedarlingbakers.com/love-someone-with-depression/