According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Major Depressive Disorder affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.” With those kind of statistics, many of us have either personally dealt with depression, or know of a friend, loved one, or family member who has. Depression symptoms include: prolonged feelings of sadness and/or lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.
Depression is not always easy to diagnose, and it tends to be even more difficult to talk about. If you believe that you’re dating someone who is struggling with depression, there are steps you can take to be an informed, supportive, and helpful partner. Depression can be consuming for both the individual with the disorder and their loved ones, but that does not have to come at the expense of the relationship. Read on to learn some tips on how to best navigate a relationship when dating someone with depression is a factor—as it brings its own set of challenges.
1. Educate yourself on what depression is.
Understand the basic symptoms, risks, and treatments available. The American Psychiatric Association is just one resource to turn to when beginning your research. The goal isn’t to diagnose your partner, but to gain a basic understanding of what they are going through.
2. Be communicative.
Express your honest concern to your partner. This should be done in a loving way, of course, but starting the open conversation about some of the symptoms that you have noticed is the first step to getting them help.
3. Be supportive.
While you should take the time to honestly communicate your concerns—it is more important to make sure you listen to your partner. One of the most important things is asking them what they need or what you can do specifically to help them navigate this difficult space.
4. Be available.
While you may think your significant other is struggling with depression, they may not have completely come to terms with their symptoms. Be available to talk whenever they are. If they need some time to process the fact that you are expressing concern, follow their lead and hold safe space so they can open up at a pace they’re comfortable with.
5. Know when to reach out for help.
Much like you would reach out to 911 with a severe physical emergency, treat mental health no differently. Depression symptoms can be intimidating and there is nothing wrong with asking for support—especially if your partner is in danger.
6. Get relationship advice.
Many times, issues in our relationships are much easier to digest and work through when you have the opportunity to bounce your frustrations off of someone else. If you are hoping to talk to your partner about depression, but just don’t know where to start, a relationship coach is a great option.
7. Set a good example.
Depression tends to reduce an individual’s desire to put themselves first and makes even the simplest of daily tasks incredibly difficult. Make sure to take care of yourself, keep up with exercise, goals, hobbies, and things that make you happy. The simple act of putting effort into yourself can recharge your own batteries. It can also give you a stronger foundation to support your partner.
8. Keep the invite open.
While someone struggling with depression may have a decreased interest in getting out of the house, make sure to keep them in the loop with the activities you and other friends may be doing and always forward the invite.
9. Keep them company.
If they keep turning down your advances to get out of the house, consider spending the day watching some of their favorite movies, playing favorite board games, or really anything (as big or small) that brings them joy.
10. Remind them why you love them.
Depression can be isolating. Many times it is hard for individuals to stay positive about themselves in the face of major depression. This is your time to a) show them you love them b) remind them of the positive parts of the relationship and c) remind them of reasons to look forward to the future.
While the above tips may give you a good place to start, you may find you need some additional resources when dating someone with depression. We offer coaching sessions designed to help you navigate the tricky parts of issues in a relationship. Please reach out—we’re here for you.