Having a fulfilling romantic life requires effort at the best of times. But if the person you are dating is depressed, it can mean some more hard work for you. And while things will be never be as smooth as with a completely healthy partner, here are a few tips to help you along when dating someone who is depressed.
Find out more about it
Depression is an affliction and like other such conditions, it needs prompt and correct diagnosis as well as treatment for a full cure. However many times depression is just a stage most of us pass through; these usually range from a couple of days to perhaps a few weeks and eventually the person is able to emerge from its shadows. On the other hand, there may be some people who are chronically afflicted by depression or are less equipped than others to cope with a major loss like bereavement, divorce or unemployment. Learn as much as you can about the affliction in general and your partner’s condition in particular. Knowing about depression will help you to understand what your partner is going through and how you can best help him/her.
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Get to know your partner
Perhaps the biggest challenge in a relationship with a depressed person comes with the unpredictability and inscrutability of their moods. One moment they may be fine – loving and laughing with you and soon enough they may sink into depths of depression. At such times you may feel helpless and unable to understand what is going on. The best thing you can do here is to know as much about your partner as you can – what gets him/her down and what helps to bring a smile to their faces. It is not possible to completely isolate yourselves from all external stimuli but knowing and anticipating the situations that trigger your partner’s depressive episodes can go a long way in easing the situation. Also look at your partner’s medication. If your partner is on drugs to control his/her depression, learn about its uses and its side effects. The latter may have a bearing on your love life since some anti-depressants are known to result in a loss in libido. Knowing about your partner’s medication will not only help you avoid misunderstandings but help them get better sooner.
Offer as much support as you can
The depressed person is fighting his/her own demons and can use all the help they get, especially from the one they love. So let your partner know that he/she can depend upon your emotional support whenever they need it. Also get your partner to talk about what makes them happy, sad, anxious or hopeful of the future. Sometimes people simply get down when they cannot find anyone to share their thoughts and feelings. So encourage your love interest to talk to you and let them know that you are open to anything that they have to say. Also try to get them out of a rut. One of the major symptoms of depression is loss of interest in any happy or positive event and an unwillingness to even carry on with the basic routine of everyday living. They may not want to stir out of bed all day or get up from the couch. In such situations, invite your partner to come along for a walk with you in the neighborhood park or do something fun like bowling or watching a concert. Sometimes you might meet with refusal from your partner or only half-hearted consent from them, but don’t let that prevent you from trying again since when they come out of their depressive phase, they will definitely thank you for your support and effort.
Don’t enable their depressive behavior
Sometimes a person suffering from depression can be led to inexcusable behavior or decisions. At such times, let them know that you will not make excuses for them or their depression. While you don't want the person to feel badly, you also do not want to enable the depressive behavior. When they give you an excuse for something, tell them that you think that their being depressed is perhaps more the reason for why they are behaving the way that they are. Some times when you point out the truth like this, they see their behavior for what it is and make a genuine effort to change.
Take care of yourself
Being in a relationship with a depressed person is an extremely stressful situation. On one hand you may have to face rejection and negativity again and again from your partner and on the other there is no one to offer you support, understanding or even a indulge you a little. At such times, you may feel like bursting into tears and heading for a breakdown yourself. Understand that you are allowed to vent your feelings now and then. Look for a networking of understanding friends and family who can offer you the support every human being needs. Alternatively join support groups made up of partners of depressed persons where you can meet and share your experiences with those in a similar situation. However refrain from attacking your depressed partner as this will not only increase their anxiety about their condition but is actually unfair since you are in this relationship out of your own free will.
Look for help
While some milder forms of depression can be cured with time and constant support, seriously and chronically depressed persons need to look for professional help. Chronic depression is an extremely complicated affliction which can go on to affect a person’s physical health as well. So if your partner speaks of dying or going somewhere far away, then you need to take him/her to a physician. In fact you as the non-depressive partner will also benefit from counseling and your relationship from therapy meant for couples.
Dating a depressed person is not the easiest of situations. And if you are still not into such a relationship, it could be wiser to choose an attachment with a healthy partner. However if you are already into a relationship and this partner means more to you than anything else, have faith that with time, therapy and lots of support, things will get better from one day to the next.